Highlights of current civic involvement/accomplishment:
Highlights of past civic involvement/accomplishment:
I have been fortunate enough over the last 12 years to pursue a professional career in finance and to see my children grow into teenagers. It has become clear to me that in order to secure their future and the future of their generation, civic involvement is no longer optional.
In 2003, I was fortunate enough to be brought on board as one of two Executive Assistants to Mayor Joe Wardy in my hometown of El Paso. At the time, El Paso was still under a strong mayor form of government, so the role initially was both as an administrative liaison as well as policy assistant. I learned a lot during those years and worked with many great professionals who served in their role as public servants, humbly and with a great sense of purpose. I am going to list just a few highlights here, but it is important to know these are not my highlights. From a strictly political perspective, these are the highlights of Mayor Wardy; but from a work perspective, they are truly the accolades of the City of El Paso employees, local organizations, and community stakeholders. I was, in many cases, simply along to bear witness to their great work.
We instituted the Mayor’s Infrastructure Taskforce for military related infrastructure development. The Mayor’s office was tasked with overseeing the infrastructure projects for areas surrounding our local military base, Fort Bliss. After a review of the agencies in place, it became obvious that the City needed to create a mechanism to coordinate the infrastructure activities of multiple agencies within multiple jurisdictions. To respond to this need, we formed the Mayor’s Infrastructure Taskforce. The Taskforce was comprised of several agencies that were charged with infrastructure issues related to Fort Bliss, including several base command staff, city departments, the Texas Department of Transportation, area school districts, law enforcement agencies, and private businesses. The group met to discuss the status and progress of well over 20 infrastructure projects, that were essential to the ongoing and expanded missions of Ft. Bliss. Key projects included: highway construction projects, reclaimed water projects to service the installation’s athletic and training fields, joint use park space, joint use first-responder public safety equipment, on and off base housing starts, public transportation infrastructure, and educational infrastructure. The success of providing infrastructure support for our military, played a role in Fort Bliss becoming the second largest net gainer of military personnel in the Department of Defense 2005 Base Realignment and Closure recommendations.
Along with the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Development Board, we established a consortium of workforce and economic development providers to improve the coordination of workforce and economic development programs in the community. This was the first of its kind; a consortium that brought a broad cross section of service providers to improve interagency leveraging of resources and eliminate duplication of services.
We worked in collaborative and creative ways with other governmental bodies. For example, we negotiated a joint use real estate agreement with the County of El Paso. This agreement transferred an outdated City parking garage to the County, which allowed the County to demolish and build a new parking facility to serve the downtown area. The City received a long-term arrangement for parking spaces in the new garage, in lieu of monetary compensation. We organized the first ever joint City Council meeting between the Cities of El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico. We negotiated a Scofflaw Agreement with the County of El Paso Tax Assessor to prevent citizens with outstanding moving violations from renewing their vehicle registration, until any outstanding fines were paid.
We worked with our Planning and Engineering Department’s to establish a new Architects and Engineers Selection process for the City. The previous process was largely seen as unfair due to the presence of elected officials serving on the selection committee. The new process added a greater level of checks and balances and removed elected officials from the selection process.
Our most consequential accomplishment was working to place, pass, and implement the Charter amendment that changed our form of government from a Strong Mayor to a City Manager form of government. Building on the foundational work done by the previous administration, we were able to finalize charter language. Once passed, we established the process for hiring the City’s first City Manager, and our legal department worked to clean a multitude of administrative conflicts. Additionally, we established the City Manager Citizens Advisory Committee, developed and appropriated preliminary budgets and staffing, and completed the transition of administrative functions in accordance with our new Charter.
Again, none of these highlights could have been accomplished without the work of City and outside entity staffs. Moreover, their work is never done; from administration to administration, those employees continue to do the people’s work. For those of us who have had the pleasure to work in the public sphere, we know the work is often thankless and largely unnoticed. It should make us all the more appreciative for those who serve every day and for those who put themselves forward for service.