Finalists for city manager job meet, greet

Informal mixer held Wednesday

EL PASO, Texas - The four finalists for the city manager position mingled with El Pasoans in the Plaza Theatre entrance hall Wednesday.

While the event was open to everyone and dozens showed up, ABC-7 was hard-pressed to find anyone there who was just your average citizen.

Many were city employees, business owners, community leaders and public advocates. But everyone wanted to meet the people vying for the top administrative job.

The lines were long to talk to out-of-towners Fernando Costa and Tommy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was the former Irving, Texas, city manager. He cited his background in fiscal management as his strong suit and would want to grow El Paso's relationships within the community.

"I think the continued relationship with the military is important," said Gonzalez. "I think ensuring we have a strong pro-business environment."

Costa served as the assistant city manager in Fort Worth. He spoke favorably of El Paso's move toward smart growth and of making the city more prosperous and livable.

"I think El Paso's policies are pointing the city in the direction of more compact development," Costa said. "More walkable communities, places where people want to live. Places that are good for business, good for the community and good for the environment. You can have all of those if you do it right."

Current City of El Paso CFO Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria has been in City Hall 10 years, overseeing the budget and purchasing. Candelaria said she would like to continue helping the city progress.

"With my perspective on the (El Paso ISD) Board of Managers I think that we really need to develop a good educational foundation so we have kids that are job-ready, college-ready and come back to contribute to this community," said Candelaria.

The other local candidate is Assistant City Manager David Almonte. He's spent 22 years with the city. He talked about a policy of financial and economic development he'd like to implement if selected.

"You can't just take one item and say, OK, when I'm done with that, I'll move on to the next," Almonte said. "We've got many projects moving and we have to continue the momentum."

All the candidates will be interviewed Thursday by a committee comprised of members selected by the mayor and City Council.

The ultimate decision of who takes the job lies with City Council.

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