Finalist chosen to become El Paso's next city manager

Monday, May 12, 2014 - 10:06pm

It's official. A finalist has been selected to become El Paso's next city manager.

After more than 12 hours of interviews city council has given the search firm Affion a green light to begin contract negotiations with Tommy Gonzalez.

As we've reported, Gonzalez was one of four finalists interviewed, and was the only candidate who has held the same position in another city. Gonzalez was the city manager of Irving, Texas from 2006 to 2013.

During his tenure, Gonzalez says the city added 23,000 jobs while also reducing costs by $44 million.

However, his tenure wasn't without controversy. Many employees publicly criticized him for his management style. Gonzalez was also the target of a lawsuit, accused of sabotaging a development deal for personal reasons.

Gonzalez admits he had his work cut out for him, convincing El Paso leaders he was the man for the job, but maintains he always had the city's interests at heart and was trying to save taxpayers money by finding a cheaper contractor.

"Any time you work on big projects there's perhaps going to be people who don't like the path that you're taking. Our focus was saving the city money," Gonzalez told Newschannel 9.

The lawsuit was ultimately settled. The El Paso City Council has not yet voted on Gonzalez's appointment, rather council voted just to move forward with contract negotiations. A vote on Gonzalez's appointment is expected at next week's city council meeting once a contract with Gonzalez is negotiated.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser today said the city won't pay Gonzalez more than $240,000 a year. That's the salary currently paid to City Manager Joyce Wilson. She is the only city manager in El Paso's history, having been appointed to the post in 2004.

Gonzalez acknowledges he'll have big shoes to fill. He tells Newschannel 9, "I think El Paso is one of those once in a lifetime opportunities because there's been so much history with the process of how they're managed and I'm just very fortunate. "

"We're hoping to make a smooth transition and hoping he can start soon because we're beginning the budget process and we want him involved in that," said mayor Oscar Leeser.

Gonzalez beat out three other finalists for the job, including two candidates from El Paso. Carmen-Arrieta Candelaria is the city's chief financial officer, and David Almonte is the current deputy city manager.


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