Pictured: "I just fell in love with how nice the people are. And then when I interviewed with the council, I knew they were people that I wanted to work for." - New City Manager Albert Uresti

New CM sees a need for more youth, senior citizen programs in Alice

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

With the beginning of his fourth week in his new position, City Manager Albert Uresti is hoping to address the upcoming budget and to begin working on a number of other projects across the city.

Uresti was appointed to the city manager position by the Alice City Council on July 9, and began work the following day.

He has a bachelor's degree in Occupational Education from Southwest Texas State University and received a Master of Public Administration Degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1992.

A San Antonio native, he and his wife, Elsie, have three adult children and have been married for 34 years.

Uresti had a 25-year career with the San Antonio Fire Department, with more than 11 years as a district fire chief, before moving into city management.

Uresti said the management skills required to be a district fire chief, combined with his education, prepared him for his first city management position.

"It was kind of a natural progression," Uresti said. "A lot of the management background is the same."

In December 1999, he accepted a position as city manager of the City of Pleasanton, where he worked for a year before moving to the South San Antonio School District as a Director of Plant Maintenance and Operations.

While serving in that position, the school board created a new title of deputy superintendent, and appointed him to the newly created position without any change in pay or duties. According to a San Antonio Express News story written Jan. 15, 2002, the Texas Education Agency was later called in to investigate the appointment, after two school board members complained.

The board later voted to rescind the appointment, and the TEA reprimanded the board for overstepping its authority on this and a number of other issues, according to the article. Uresti resigned from his position with the district in November 2002, after an investigation into a separate incident involving the sale or disposal of school property under Uresti's control.

That investigation revealed no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, according to a San Antonio Express News article written in October 2006.

After resigning from the district, Uresti went on to serve as the interim city manager for the City of Hondo, and the city manager of the City of Pearsall.

In the fall of 2005, Uresti began working with his brother, Carlos Uresti, as he campaigned for the state senate, a campaign Carlos Uresti won in March 2006.

He then turned his attention to his own campaign for U.S. Representative of District 23.

Uresti said he never really had a strong desire to hold public office, but he felt compelled to run because of his political beliefs.

"The main reason that I ran for United States Congress was that I was really against the war," Uresti said. "None of the other candidates came out against it."

In the November 2006 election, Uresti was the third-highest vote getter from a field of eight candidates, and the seat eventually went to Ciro Rodriguez.

Uresti said campaigning in a district that ran from San Antonio to El Paso was a challenge, but a rewarding experience.

"I learned a lot about a lot of different communities," Uresti said. "I learned that communities are different and have different needs, but they also have a lot of similar needs. I think people all over the state want the same thing. They want better education, more jobs, and a better quality of life. That's not unique to any city."

When asked if he would consider running for elected office again, Uresti said that was not something he was considering at this time.

"It's not an immediate plan," Uresti said. "I guess I would be open to it later on, but not any time in the near future."

In June, Uresti was selected as a finalist from a field of more than 20 candidates for city manager of Alice.

Uresti said he was originally attracted to the Alice position because it was close to San Antonio and in a good location, but he took the job for a different reason.

"When I got down here, one of the things that I noticed about this community is that everyone is really nice," Uresti said. "I just fell in love with how nice the people are. And then when I interviewed with the council, I knew they were people that I wanted to work for."

He is currently in the middle of planning for next year's budget, and has scheduled a number of budget workshops with the council over the next month.

"We're going to be doing our best to not raise the tax rate, that's my goal," Uresti said. "I would like to reduce the tax rate."

Although the budget is his first priority, Uresti said he has already noticed some areas of the city he believe can be improved.

"The thing I see is that we need more youth programs and we need more senior citizen programs," Uresti said. "We're also going to be reorganizing the city's organizational structure and adjusting it in order to make us more efficient."

Above all, Uresti said, he wants the community to know that his goal is to work for them.

"We're here to serve the public, and I think we can never forget that," Uresti said. "I think we need to treat people as we want to be treated. I think if you can remember those two things, you can be successful as a city government."