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City Manager Finalist Erik Walsh To Embark on Listening Tour of San Antonio

As he awaits a City Council vote on his appointment, Deputy City Manager Erik Walsh might be assembly with greater than a dozen stakeholder teams throughout San Antonio over the subsequent two weeks to get a really feel for the group’s needs and wishes.

Associated: Council Selects Erik Walsh as Finalist for San Antonio’s Subsequent City Manager

“I want to assure everyone that I will act in the community’s best interest if selected by the Council,” Walsh advised reporters as he delivered his first public statements Thursday afternoon since City Council chosen him because the finalist for the town supervisor place. “And I will act in accordance with the mayor’s and city council’s policy directions.”

City Council, which chosen Walsh after hours two rounds of closed-door discussions, is scheduled to vote on his appointment on Jan. 31.

Walsh, 49, has labored for the town for almost 25 years, overseeing a number of City departments, together with the hearth, police, and Metro Well being departments.

Expertise with police and hearth departmental operations and public-safety labor unions is seen as a essential element for the subsequent metropolis supervisor because the City continues to attempt to begin contract negotiations with the hearth union. Walsh has that have, however throughout a press convention on Thursday he emphasised that his focus for the subsequent two weeks shall be to take heed to the various voices of San Antonio.

Walsh and Assistant City Manager Maria Villagómez, who additionally has performed a task in public-safety union labor talks, have been the remaining two candidates interviewed Wednesday by City Council. Click on right here to view applicant cowl letters and résumés.

“I’ve worked for the City for 21 years and having that opportunity meant the world to me,” Villagómez stated. “It was a fair process, a process that I enjoyed, and I’m glad I participated. I’m thrilled that Erik is our finalist for the city manager position. … He’s a smart man, he is compassionate, he listens to what somebody has to say, and I think he’ll do a great job and use those skills.”

Earlier than City Council votes on his appointment, Walsh will take part in a public symposium scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 6-Eight p.m. at UTSA’s Downtown Campus Buena Vista Theatre. The occasion might be live-streamed, nevertheless it’s unclear if it’ll embrace a stay Q&A session involving members of the general public; the format has not been finalized. Click on right here to register and submit a query for Walsh on-line.

Under are excerpts of Walsh’s feedback from the press convention and questions requested by media members. Some questions have been edited for readability and size.

Walsh: I’m humbled and honored to be earlier than you because the proposed finalist for the town supervisor place. I used to be born right here in San Antonio, I graduated from Central Catholic. I went to Trinity [University] – acquired a bachelor’s and grasp’s diploma and even performed soccer there – go, Tigers!

I am from San Antonio. I care about this group. … I would like it to be on the prime of everyone’s listing – whether or not it is the perfect place to stay, greatest place to work, or greatest place to boost a household. These objectives are as private to me as they in all probability are to any of you. They imply quite a bit to me, and this can be a profession alternative for me to be metropolis supervisor of my hometown.

Over the subsequent couple of weeks I will be assembly with a quantity of totally different group teams to pay attention immediately and get a greater understanding of their priorities, considerations, and wishes. Proper now I am targeted on establishing these connections and people relationships and making certain the group believes in, has belief in, and voice in native authorities. I need to guarantee everybody that I’ll act locally’s greatest curiosity if chosen by the council. And I’ll act in accordance with the mayor’s and metropolis council’s coverage instructions.

Let’s be clear … we’re nonetheless on this course of and I am a proposed finalist. I am wanting ahead to partaking with the group over the subsequent two weeks and subsequent Wednesday night time at the united states downtown campus.

When did you determine you needed to be a City Manager?

EW: In highschool … once I was a freshman at Central Catholic. I had Father Shaughnessy, who was the English instructor, and a pair occasions every week this man would come jogging down the road and Father Shaughnessy would level out, “There goes the city manager.”

As a nine-grader, no one knew who the town supervisor was. Sooner or later that semester Father Shaughnessy defined what the town supervisor was, who he was, and why it was essential to native authorities and public service. And lots of individuals can level to a second in time of their historical past, and that was my second. I have been keen on native authorities since then. By the best way, the town supervisor that may jog by couple occasions every week was Lou Fox on the time. It was a narrative I informed him once I was in graduate faculty.

If permitted by City Council, you will be getting into some fairly huge footwear. Retiring City Manager Sheryl Sculley received us a robust bond score, and she or he did quite a bit for this City. How does it really feel to be shifting into these footwear? 

Associated: San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley Steps Down After 13 Years

EW: It is an excellent alternative and it is a profession achievement. This can be a nice group in an amazing metropolis. It is an enormous duty and I am wanting ahead to it.

What have you ever discovered from Sculley? 

EW: Outcomes matter – however there must be that group relationship. Relationships with all elements of our group are essential. However on the finish of the day, the residents, the mayor and City Council – all of you – anticipate outcomes. And that is received to be key.

What do you assume goes to be the hardest problem for the City of San Antonio and so that you can deal with? 

EW: There are lots of points which might be in progress proper now and there are priorities that the council has already set. … The subsequent metropolis supervisor will want to have the ability to step in and handle via these tasks. Is there one single largest concern? No. They’re all essential they usually all need to be managed. And that is why we’ve an amazing group and that is why we depend upon the mayor and City Council.

All the things is a precedence. And that is the sweetness of this job and of public service. You must hold your eye on all of the balls, on a regular basis, day by day.

What do you assume must be carried out or fastened first?

EW: My first precedence goes to make it possible for I am engaged and on the identical web page and in keeping with the mayor and City Council’s instructions. That is obtained to be precedence one.

What concerning the contract with the hearth union?

Associated: Regardless of Approval of Prop C, Hearth Union Contract Negotiations Nonetheless in Limbo

EW: … My view on that’s that we have to hold open relationships with rather a lot of totally different points of our group, and the labor union organizations – the hearth union – is one of them. I feel half of my position is to ensure these relationships are open.

My dedication is to all the time be accessible to all segments of our group. I am going to all the time have an open-door coverage. … I feel this can be a easy idea: On the finish of the day, on that merchandise particularly, everyone simply needs one thing that is truthful for everyone. Actually. It comes right down to [something] that straightforward.

Voter-approved Proposition B made it so a supermajority of City Council members (eight) has to vote in favor of your appointment and contract. How assured do you are feeling going into the voting course of?

Associated: Seek for Sculley’s Successor Marked by Unknowns

EW: I am targeted on the group conferences over the subsequent two weeks. I am not going to focus on these issues past my management at this level. I do know, in my thoughts, that over the subsequent two weeks I’ve obtained lots of work to do, I’ve obtained rather a lot of connections to make with the group and I’ll keep targeted on that.

Prop B additionally instituted wage and time period limits to the town supervisor place. Do both of these issue into your considering as you strategy this job? What occurs after eight years?

EW: I utilized for this job. This can be a profession achievement to be the town supervisor in your house city. That doesn’t occur fairly often – so I am not frightened about it. So far as the wage, I feel that is approach too untimely at this level. I’ll focus on group engagement.

… I am excited concerning the alternative, actually I’m. Eight years is a very long time, and I am wanting to hopefully undergo the method and hit the bottom operating and make some outcomes.

All six of Sculley’s lieutenants competed for this place – your co-workers. What’s the dynamic on the office going to be like in case you are appointed? Will there be any awkwardness? 

Associated: And Then There Have been Eight: Council Shrinks Pool of Candidates for City Manager

EW: No. There isn’t any awkward state of affairs. Truly, they’re all right here proper now. [Deputy City Manager Peter Zanoni had a meeting but watched much of the conference via live stream.] We have all been supportive of one another. It was a rigorous course of and every one of us needed to put together, however on the finish of the day I feel we’re an amazing workforce. … With the chief management we’ve in our departments and the devoted staff we have now – that is one of the explanations we’re one of the best-managed cities on this nation.

What tasks is the City taking on now that you’re particularly wanting ahead to persevering with?

EW: There’s rather a lot of tasks which are ongoing. The annual finances put aside $25 million extra for an reasonably priced housing marketing strategy, and that manufacturing is ongoing. We’re simply into the primary quarter of it. That is an enormous precedence of the council, and with that a lot cash put aside – directed in the direction of it – we will have to hold that venture in manufacturing.

It is such as you guys are asking me to select which one of my youngsters I like probably the most. They’re all necessary. They are surely. And I feel that is the stability of the place and the job of the town supervisor.

What are your instant priorities?

EW: One … the present state legislative agenda. The legislature can be doing their work over the subsequent a number of months up in Austin. Certainly San Antonio should be aware. We have now our personal agenda that the council accepted so we have to insert ourselves and help and supply info.

Two … the implementation of the reasonably priced housing marketing strategy – that is clearly a precedence within the fast [term].

Three … the mayor and Council requested the employees in December for a long run funding technique for Haven for Hope. There’s an engagement course of with an inventory of stakeholders that will probably be concerned. That might want to come again to the Council briefly order. That entire engagement course of goes to take so much of work and Maria Villagómez has already kicked that off.

4 … checking in and seeing the place we’re at on our dockless car pilot program.

How will being a local San Antonian show you how to as metropolis supervisor if chosen?

EW: I am from right here. It means rather a lot to me. I am not saying it would not imply rather a lot to anyone else, however from my perspective it simply means so much.

What variety of speedy modifications are you planning to implement?

EW: Proper now I’ll focus on the remaining half of this course of. That is method too untimely. I am going to wait till I am lucky sufficient to be appointed by the mayor and City Council after which check out that.

How will you strategy Austin and attempt to get the eye of the State Legislature, which has proven an curiosity in taking away native management?

EW: The council has permitted our legislative agenda and it isn’t for the town to dictate how the state legislates. We have to be prepared and ready to offer info, work with different entities just like the Texas Municipal League or different giant cities. There’s an entire machine in place that must be supported, and we’ll have to be aware of the actions going on up in Austin. … In the event that they impression us, we’ll have to know early.

What variety of teams will you be assembly with within the subsequent two weeks? Are there any that you simply really feel perhaps have not had as a lot entry to the town supervisor’s workplace that you simply assume ought to?

EW: … I haven’t got a replica of that listing. I’ve seen it. It is a very numerous record. Some I’ve interacted with and others I have never. I haven’t got the small print [yet].

For some, metropolis administration may look like a overseas language. What are the individuals who stay right here day-after-day going to see change when you get this place?

EW: The one change they will see proper now’s [they are] going to see me at lots of group conferences, partaking with the general public. I am the proposed finalist. Council has but to make that call.

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