Victoria could get its first female city manager


June 29, 2010 at 1:29 a.m.
Updated June 30, 2010 at 1:30 a.m.

Charmelle Garrett

Charmelle Garrett

Victoria could have its first female city manager by next year.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to have City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz negotiate a contract for the position with Deputy City Manager Charmelle Garrett.

"I'm very excited," Garrett said after the meeting. "I think we've got great things to come in this city."

She added that she looks forward to meeting Victoria's challenges with the team she and current City Manager Charles Windwehen have built over the past four years.

Windwehen, 59, announced last week he will retire at the end of February. He has been the city manager since 2006 and has worked for the city almost 36 years.

Garrett, 50, went to work for the city in August 1990 as the director of human resources. She was promoted to deputy city manager in 2006.

Garrett said she assumes she will take over as city manager March 1. Gwosdz said one of the things that will be negotiated in the contract is her pay package.

Council Member Tom Halepaska has said Windwehen has enough vacation that he won't have to work after late September or early October.

Mayor Will Armstrong appointed Halepaska to head up a committee to recommend to the council the best way to find a replacement for Windwehen. Halepaska appointed council members Denise Rangel and David Hagan to serve with him.

The committee came up with three options:

Hire an independent search firm that would charge taxpayers $25,000 to $30,000 and take four to six months.

Use a city council committee to conduct a time-consuming search like it did when Windwehen was hired.

Promote from within if the candidate meets or exceeds the council's criteria. This was the committee's recommendation.

The council agreed with the recommended method and went into executive session to discuss specific personnel before emerging to authorize negotiations with Garrett.

"I'm very confident about Charmelle," Rangel said. "She's proven herself time and time again."

She said she's known Garrett since 1984 and is confident she can continue to move the city forward.

Council Member Gabriel Soliz said he's also confident Garrett is the right person for the job.

"She knows the city," he said. "She knows the personnel."

Proposed criteria include a minimum of three years experience as assistant city manager or city manager in a Texas city with a population of at least 40,000.

Other requirements were broad management responsibilities, at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent in business, experience leading a diverse workforce and a strong work ethic.



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