How did you end up here in Visalia?
Many years ago, I was commuting to a job in Visalia from Fresno when I met my future wife, Gail. At that time she was living in Exeter and working in Visalia. We eventually married and established a home in Visalia. Next April we will have been married and living in this area 40 years.
How did you get your start in this line of work?
I was finishing a degree in economics from Fresno State in the mid-70s and was in need of a job. A friend who was working as a regional land use planner at Tulare County encouraged me to apply for a job at the County as a planner. I got the job on a temporary basis and eventually became a full-time planner. That job got me started in the regional planning field. I later moved into city planning, public works and community development, and then city management.
Why are you passionate about your work?
City management is not just about providing services to our residents and businesses; it’s also about making our community a better place to live. The City is constantly striving to improve our community with better public safety, youth programs, shopping, jobs, and other necessities and amenities. That’s a critical part of our responsibility to the public. On the personal side, Visalia is our home and always will be, and home to my two sons and their families; I feel a tremendous professional and personal obligation to do my part to make Visalia a better place.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
There are many needs and competing demands in a community of our size. The biggest challenge is trying to do as much as we can within the financial constraints of the organization. Fiscal responsibility, and operating within our means, is a fundamental goal of a City Manager. Everything we do is driven by that precept.
Tell us about a single moment when you realized this was the right occupation for you:
Many years ago, as a young planner for Tulare County, I worked with a civil engineer named John Dutton to establish a sewage collection system in the unincorporated East Porterville area. The area was plagued by failing septic systems creating health and safety issues for families living there. This is the same area now severely impacted by the drought. John and I were part of a team that laid the groundwork for eventual construction of the sewer system. When I saw how much positive change was being made in this challenged neighborhood through our efforts, I decided that was the career path I wanted to take.
If you had to choose another career, what would it be?
As a young man, I spent four fire seasons on a Forest Service fire crew. This led me to my first career preference, which was to become a forester. Life took me on a different path.
Tell as a little about life outside of work:
My two sons and their families live in Visalia, along with a large extended family, so a lot of time is spent on family activities. I’m an avid golfer, love to shoot guns and bows, and I still enjoy the mountains.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Most people think I’m a pretty sedate guy. So when they ask my taste in music, they’re usually surprised that Led Zeppelin is my favorite band and has been since I first heard their songs in the late 60s. Unfortunately, my wife has no fondness for Led Zeppelin; I’m not sure why.
What about Visalia makes this a good community to live and work in?
Most everything about Visalia is great…vibrant Downtown, wonderful neighborhoods and parks, great schools, good shopping, and many restaurants…you name it. Mostly, though, it’s the people; friendly, industrious, diverse, and wanting to live in a safe and caring community.
Just for fun, if you were stranded on an island, what three objects would you take with you?
- My phone (and solar charger) to listen to music and read books.
- A case of pinot grigio.
- A good cot.