Saturday, July 26, 2008
Irving City Manager Tommy Gonzalez says city offers many opportunities
Gonzalez loves coming to work every day because of the interaction with employees and the opportunity of recognizing them for exceptional services.
“I went to Eastern New Mexico University, because I had a full football scholarship,” he said. “I didn’t think about city government until I was getting my master’s degree at Texas Tech University when my coach’s wife, who was city secretary for the city of Lubbock, suggested that I apply for a job with the city.”
Gonzalez said that he worked for the city of Lubbock the entire time he was getting his master’s degree, holding several positions, all the way up to deputy city manager.
He graduated from magnet Lubbock High School in 1985 and Eastern New Mexico University in 1990, majoring in government with minors in psychology and military science. He earned his master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech University in 1995.
Before coming to Irving in May 2006, Gonzalez was one of four assistant city managers for the city of Dallas, where he was in charge of the Efficiency Team, Equipment and Building Services, Human Resources/Risk Management/Safety and Office of Environmental Quality. He was also liaison to the Civil Service Department.
Prior to joining the city of Dallas, he was city manager of Harlingen.
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He oversees a budget of over $350 million and a staff of 2,180 city employees.
“Our employees developed a mission statement wherein we will deliver exceptional service and promote a high quality of life for residents, visitors and businesses,” Gonzalez said. “We tell them [employees] that we’re going to behave in a manner of carrying out that mission by respecting one another, working as a team, and effectively communicating.
“If we can accomplish these things, it will lead to positive leadership.”
He said those objectives are reinforced by giving a known employee who delivers exceptional service a gift certificate, on the spot, at a local restaurant.
“If we reinforce that behavior, we’ll have that behavior delivered more often,” he said.
By working for the city of Irving, there are many opportunities and you never know everything that is going to come at you, he said.
“One never gets bored, and we manage those opportunities through strategic planning that contains 10 goals and over 70 strategies,” he said.
Gonzalez is a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Army (ROTC), earning the title of battalion commander.
“My experiences have taught me, whether it’s on the football field, serving in the Army, or working with various cities, that perspective is very important,” he said. “I believe that all the places I have traveled and all my experiences have given me the appropriate perspective of managing the city, as well as my battalion.”
Gonzalez’ army duties keep him busy, taking him away on weekends and one two-to-three week period every year.
“It doesn’t impact my job, but it does impact my family,” he said. “I stand firm in supporting the military and the [city] council doesn’t object.”
Gonzalez said that pushing for results in a way that causes all team members to make those results their own is the most challenging aspect of his job.
He said that he loves coming to work every day because of the interaction with employees and the opportunity of recognizing them for exceptional services.
Gonzalez comes from a poor background. His father worked three jobs, the main one being painting yellow caterpillars for almost 20 years.
“In my view, my parents are the best people on this planet,” he said. “My dad’s work ethic can be found in my day-to-day commitment in what I do.
“There were six children and all six earned college degrees, with three earning master’s degrees.”
Gonzalez said that on the average he works about 70 to 75 hours a week for the city.
He has been married to his wife, Sandy, for 20 years, and they have two sons, Sagen, six, and Sager, five.
“The most important thing to Tommy is his family and that’s what drives him,” said Sandy. “He’s a passionate father and husband.
“He has a big heart, loves life, and wants to be the best that he can be for his family and country.”
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