City looking for new city manager

Mike Linn

City officials have already begun the process of searching for a new city manager, of whom they hope to have hired within 30 to 60 days.
The beginning stages of the search comes less than 24 hours after the Portales city council fired former city manager Gerald Depo, leaving Public Works Director Tom Howell and City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry to fulfill his duties until a replacement is hired.
Terry said she has built an advertisement for the open city manager position and hopes the city council will approve it for publication within a week.
The advertisement will be published locally, in the Albuquerque Journal, in the state’s municipal league newsletter and to members of the International City Manager’s Association, Martinez-Terry said.
“The goal is to take care of this immediately,” Mayor Orlando Ortega said. “Obviously we don’t want to skip a beat with our progress (as a city) and what we are doing. Hopefully within 30 days and at the most 60 days we’ll have the position filled.”
Ortega would not release the details that led to Depo’s firing, but said he stood by the decision “100 percent.”
Several city council members on Tuesday night said they would not discuss the details either.
Ortega said he and members of the city council met with Depo on several occasions seeking improvement from their city manager.
“This wasn’t a sudden thing,” Ortega noted.
City officials said Depo was an at-will employee, meaning he could be fired anytime at the pleasure of the eight-member city council.
Tuesday night’s city council vote to oust the city manager was unanimous.
Depo, who came from Bloomsburg, Penn. to Portales in August of 2002 to accept the position, made $78,000 annually.