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Walsh Confirmed As Next San Antonio City Manager

Walsh-UTSA-Symposium-PALACIOS-012319.JPG
Joey Palacios
/
Texas Public Radio
City Manager Finalist Erik Walsh appears before the public in a town hall at UTSA's downtown campus

Updated 5:39 p.m.

Erik Walsh will be the 20th city manager for San Antonio.

Walsh was approved by a unanimous, 11-0, vote Thursday. He will take office on March 1.

“I am excited, honored and humbled to be the next city manager … of our great city," he said. "It is a career opportunity for me professionally — and personally. ... It is personal because San Antonio is home.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said it’s a new era at City Hall.

“Appointing a city manager is the most important task that our city council can face and it doesn't happen often," he said. "It hasn't happened in the last 13 years.”

Details On Walsh's Contract 

On Wednesday, council negotiated a starting salary with Walsh, at $312,000 with no bonus.

Walsh’s salary is the maximum he can earn under the restrictions of Proposition B, which voters approved in November.

READ A draft of Walsh's contract

Under the current restrictions of Prop B, Walsh can only receive total financial compensation of 10 times the lowest-salaried employee, which is $312,000. He can also only be in the job for eight years.

As a result, he won’t be eligible for incentive bonuses under those restrictions, which may change the evaluation process, Nirenberg said.

“The council will have to discuss how we use the evaluation tool that’s under development and whether we should use it as an evaluation at the end of the year since the incentive tool becomes pointless without the ability to pay incentive within the bounds of Proposition B,” Nirenberg said Wednesday.

Walsh will also have to pay for his own health care premiums.

By comparison, outgoing city manager Sheryl Sculley, who announced her retirement in November, had a salary of $475,000 with the ability to receive a bonus of up to $100,000.

Walsh has been a city employee for 24 years and worked in the city manager’s office since 2006, first as an assistant city manager then deputy city manager in 2011.

'You Were Not My First Choice'

District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales admitted she had her doubts at first when Walsh was named finalist.

“(It’s) no surprise to us that you were not my first choice for this job; you were not even my second choice for this job,” Gonzales said. “And then we had an opportunity to meet one on one and then I was absolutely convinced you were not the right person for this job.”

Gonzales said Walsh did not seem to be familiar with the priorities of her district, which contains most of San Antonio’s West Side.

“And so then we had our meeting on Wednesday at (the University of Texas-San Antonio) downtown and I saw your whole family there — your parents, your wife, your in-laws, your cousins, your brothers — and then I thought, 'Maybe he’s not so bad,' ” she said. “I mean if he’s going to be surrounded by his family, he must have done something good in his life that they keep supporting him over and over again.”

She added, after spending more time with him, she began to recognize Walsh had all the skills necessary to ensure her district does not get left behind, and that he was honest, hardworking and open to ideas.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, from left, new City Manager Erik Walsh and outgoing City Manager Sheryl Sculley at City Hall. Jan. 31
Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, from left, new City Manager Erik Walsh and outgoing City Manager Sheryl Sculley at City Hall.

'Blindside'

Sculley included her own praise for Walsh, who played football in both high school and college.

“Like every good offensive lineman, Erik is smart, quick on his feet, able to read the field well, and protects the quarterback from what she can’t see coming and to protect her blindside,” Sculley said. “So today I am very confident in Erik’s ability to serve as quarterback of the city’s leadership team.”

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Joey Palacios can be reached at joey@tpr.org or on Twitter @joeycules

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules