Mercedes continues search for city manager

MERCEDES — The search for a city manager here has drawn at least six applicants since September.

Last month, the city commission voted 3-1 to remove Daniel Tijerina, who served as city manager for two months.

The city seeks a leader with a master’s degree in public administration, who has at least seven years of experience within a city. The initial job posting only required five years of city government experience.

“What the city commission is looking for, I believe, is a more seasoned city manager — someone who has done this work before,” said Interim City Manager Sergio Zavala, who will not be applying for the position.

Zavala said he will review the applications with City Secretary Arcelia Felix at the end of the week to determine if any of the candidates meet the qualifications.

The city commissioners and mayor will make the hiring decision by vote, but the item has not yet been placed on a city agenda.

Commissioner Leo Villarreal said he wants a “top-notch” city manager.

“We have to make sure that we make a good choice,” said Villarreal, who has served as Place 1 commissioner since June 2017.

Mayor Henry Hinojosa said via text message that he does not “do interviews” and did not provide a comment about the search for the city’s third city manager this year. Commissioners James Howard Wade, Jr. and Cristella De Leon Hernandez did not respond to calls for comment.

“We expect good, qualified candidates to apply,” Villarreal said.

The city manager should have experience with grant applications and personnel management skills, according to the job notice published on the city’s website.

To be considered for city manager, a candidate must have a bachelor’s or advanced degree in public administration, business administration or finance with a specialization in municipal administration, the notice states.

In March, commissioners fired then-city manager Richard Garcia after it was discovered the city inadvertently paid utility bills for the Texas Valley Community Foundation, according to a lawsuit Garcia filed.

Garcia sued the city, the mayor, and commissioners Villarreal and Ruben “Chano” Guajardo. The lawsuit remains ongoing in district court.

In addition to the city manager position, the city is searching for a public works director with five years of experience and a purchasing agent.