PALMVIEW — With the new year came a new era for the city of Palmview as the Michael Leo was sworn in as the new permanent city manager Wednesday, nearly two years after the previous permanent city manager was terminated.
Leo’s hiring, which was announced at the end of November, concludes an almost transition-like period for the city that was led by interim City Manager Leo Olivares.
Olivares was hired in April 2017 when then-City Manager Ramon Segovia was placed on administrative leave and later terminated that June.
Since then, Olivares worked with the city to ensure the council and staff followed the city charter which apparently wasn’t always the case before.
This transition period really began when the dynamic on the city council changed as a result of the November 2016 elections.
Council members Linda Sarabia, Joel Garcia and Javier Ramirez, who ran together on the same political slate, were elected and subsequently held the majority on the council.
The council then moved to bring Olivares on board and together, Olivares and the council oversaw major changes.
During that time, the city council terminated City Secretary Bertha Garza, replacing her with Annette Villarreal who previously worked for the city of McAllen.
The council also hired Rachel Chapa as their finance director, the city’s first, and hired then-Lt. Gilbert Zamora as their new police chief following the tumultuous termination of Chief Christopher Barrera.
Zamora was sworn in as the new chief on Nov. 20, 2018, the day Leo was announced as the new city manager. However, Leo’s own swearing-in was delayed until the new year, when he officially took over.
When he finally took the oath of office on Wednesday, it was administered by former County Judge Ramon Garcia whose own successor was sworn-in earlier that day.
Leo worked closely with Garcia as Hidalgo County’s director of economic development and expressed his passion for public service.
“To the employees that are here today, city of Palmview, I’m looking forward to working with you,” he said at his swearing-in, adding that he felt fortunate to be following Olivares.
“He did all the work for me, he did all the dirty work for me,” Leo said. “It’s made my job a lot easier.”
Echoing comments by City Council member Linda Sarabia, Leo said Olivares laid the foundation for him.
“Now it’s my job to build upon that and take Palmview to the next level,” he said. “So I’m asking for everybody’s help in joining me in doing that.”