Four Finalists for City Manager announced

KDBC

Two are from El Paso and one has a controversial past

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 8:40pm

After 119 applications were submitted for the city manager position, the mayor of El Paso and city council narrowed it down to the final four.

Mayor Oscar Leeser said on Wednesday he and city council are confident one of these final four candidates could be the next city manager.

"Affion brought back the best fit for our community, so we didn't really look at where they were from," said Leeser. "We are glad we have the best four candidates that we think fit the city best."

Affion Public is a company that specializes in conducting background checks and figuring out which qualified applicant fits a certain public service job the best, in this case the city manager position for El Paso.

Two of the four are from El Paso and the other two are from Fort Worth.

But one of the candidates holds a controversial past.

The first El Paso Native is Deputy City Manager David Almonte. He has worked for the city since 1991 and served as sergeant in the United States Air Force from 1973-1977.

"I am very confident I am the best candidate for the job, and i look forward to stepping into that role. I've been preparing here for 22 years with the city so very well experienced," said Almonte.

The other El Pasoan is the Chief Financial Officer Carmen Arietta Candelaria. She has been in her current role for nearly 10 years and was the Chief of Staff for the El Paso County Judge from 2011-2012.

"I am fiscally conservative I always take a very conservative approach and I am looking at a project to make sure that it succeeds," Candelaria said. "And I think that sets me apart from the other candidates."

Once the names of the finalists were released, we wanted to know more about the out of town candidates.

An online search revealed some controversy surrounding one of them. Tommy Gonzalez.

He is currently the general manager of North Texas Division and Vice President for Sterling Construction Company Inc.

Gonzalez served as a city manager for Irving Texas from 2006-2013 when he stepped down.

We obtained an affidavit online from our NBC Affiliate detailing alleged unethical behavior, but we were not able to verify the authenticity of the document.

We were also able to find details of Mr. Gonzalez' employment contract under Irving's city council meeting minutes that included an agreement to indemnify Gonzalez from any lawsuits; in addition a mutually nondisparagement clause was signed.

We reached out to the City of Irving and they responded with a letter of recommendation, another term of  his departure from Irving.

We called Gonzalez at his current place of employment and were told he was out of the office. We left a message and are yet to hear from him.

The other out of town candidate is from Fort Worth, Fernando Costa.

He is currently the assistant city manager for the city of Fort Worth.

"The city of El Paso is growing exponentially. And the next city manager will be improving the city's livability, the city's transportation system customer service and financial soundness," said Costa. "I think that my experience here at Fort Worth and previously in Georgia demonstrates my own ability to make that kind of contribution."

 All four Candidates will gather on May 7th at the Plaza theater and the community will be able to meet them from 5:30p.m. to 8:00p.m.

I also reached out to the Human Resources Director for the City of El Paso to ask how it was that these four candidates were chosen, and it turns out that Affion Public, conducts the background checks, and sends their findings to the mayor and city council who then decide who they want representing their city.

For more details on the candidates biographies click on the websites.

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