July 28, 2021 148 PM
PRESIDIO –– On Monday, the Presidio City Council hired Brad Newton as the town’s new city administrator. Newton, who also heads the Presidio Municipal Development District, has been serving as interim administrator for the past six months after Joe Portillo resigned from the position back in February.
The council deliberated for close to two hours in a private session at Monday’s special meeting before they came to a decision. All members of the city council voted in favor of hiring Newton –– save John Razo, who abstained.
“It’s just another day in paradise,” Newton said after learning he’d secured the position. “It’s really just a continuation of what I’ve been trying to do in the last six months.”
That said, the council has asked for Newton to ensure that he prioritizes his city administrator duties over those at the development district. “I think he really enjoys that role, but the council wants him to focus on the administrator role,” said Presidio Mayor John Ferguson.
“They want me to focus more on city issues and wean off the economic development side of it,” Newton said, but added, “It’s almost impossible for a city administrator to turn his back on economic development.”
Ferguson said that the council will most likely be looking to find someone else to replace Newton as head of the municipal district, yet how and when the council will proceed with that process is not set in stone.
In the public comments section of the meeting, businessman H. Cowan gave a full-throated endorsement of Newton. Cowan said that the council should look for two qualities in an effective city administrator: responsibility and responsiveness. “Brad is quite responsible,” Cowan said. “He doesn’t lie.”
Cowan also noted that Newton is always responsive to his concerns. “We haven’t always had that,” he said.
Councilmember Irvin Olivas said that Newton’s consistency in his role as interim city administrator was one of the main motivating factors in hiring him. “Employees are happy working with him. Our mayor is happy working with him,” Olivas said.
In total, nine people applied for the city administrator position, yet the council whittled the list down to just three candidates –– Newton, Jeran Stephens and Pamela Woods. In the executive session on Monday, the council interviewed only Newton and Stephens though, as Woods did not attend the meeting.
According to Mayor Ferguson, Stephens has been volunteering at Big Bend Ranch State Park and has some family ties to Presidio. Despite that, Ferguson said that Newton was the best choice for Presidio at this particular time. “Personally, I felt it was critical for us to have continuity at city hall,” Ferguson said. “We are entering a new fiscal year, and I think that Brad has provided a very stabilizing force for the city.”
“There’s a lot to be said for his contacts that are very important to the city –– with state agencies and people who do business with the city,” Ferguson said. “I didn’t feel it was the time to bring someone in new that would not have that prior knowledge and experience.”
Going forward, Newton said that his number one priority as city administrator is to ensure that the city starts receiving better audits. “We have missed out for years on a lot of grants because we didn’t have our audits in place,” he said. “So our ultimate goal is to start getting a good audit.”