Walsh Promotes, Shuffles Staff on First Day as City Manager

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City Manager finalist Erik Walsh responds to questions during a news conference outlining his role if he is confirmed with a super majority (8 of 10 votes) by City Council.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

City Manager Erik Walsh announced administration changes on the first day in his new role.

As San Antonio’s brand new city manager, Erik Walsh on Friday announced several leadership changes – his first official order of business.

Maria Villagómez, who has served as assistant city manager since 2015, is now deputy city manager. She takes over the position Walsh left to replace Sheryl Sculley, who was city manager of San Antonio for nearly 14 years.

“These changes will accomplish our goal of being effective, efficient and responsive to our residents,” Walsh said in a statement. “I’m excited about today’s appointments. It’s critical to have the right team in place to carry out our responsibility to the Mayor and City Council and the San Antonio community. Together, we will continue the City’s legacy of providing critical, professional services to our residents and improving their quality of life.”

Villagómez, who has worked for the City for more than 20 years, had applied for the city manager position – along with all five of Sculley’s other deputies and assistants. She and Walsh emerged as finalists out of a field of 31 local and national candidates.

“I’m ecstatic to continue to serve our residents as Deputy City Manager and to directly support our public safety personnel in the San Antonio Police and Fire departments,”
Villagómez told the Rivard Report in a text message. “My 21-year career with the City has well prepared me for this role, and I look forward to continuing the good work of our employees and executive leadership team in providing the best services to our residents.”

Replacing Villagómez as interim assistant city manager is Colleen Bridger, who is leaving her current role as director of the Metropolitan Health District, the City’s public health department, to try her hand at overseeing the Health, Parks and Recreations, and Human Services departments and the Office of Equity for six months.

Bridger told the Rivard Report the six-month interim appointment will give her a chance to see whether the position is a good fit for someone with more than two decades of experience in public health. “At the end, [Walsh] and I will talk about whether it’s a good fit forever.”

Bridger plans to develop a framework for each department to look at how social determinants of health, such as income and access to healthy food and safe places to exercise, might impact overall goals.

Taking over for Bridger in the interim is Jennifer Herriott, who has worked with the City for more than 16 years, most recently as the longest tenured of Metro Health’s three assistant directors, with five years in the role. Herriott has 23 years of experience working in the public health sector.

Other leadership changes:

  • The “interim” on Brian Dillard’s chief innovation officer position was removed
  • Zan Gibbs, who was the equity manager, is now chief equity officer for the Office of Equity
  • Alex Lopez, former interim chief equity officer, is now deputy director of the Economic Development Department

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