McDaniel leaving for city of Dallas: Administrator will start position as assistant city manager on Sept. 2

Published on Friday, 1 August 2014 19:53 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

City Manager Mark McDaniel is heading to Dallas.

McDaniel has confirmed he has accepted an assistant city manager position with the city of Dallas. He will begin his new job on Sept. 2.

“We are grateful to Mark for his 10 years of service to the city of Tyler. Mark and our entire city staff have worked diligently to make Tyler the standard for local government,” Mayor Martin Heines said in a statement. “We wish him the best of success in his future endeavors.”

The city council will discuss the opening on Aug. 13, he said.

“Our permanent replacement search will focus on employing a city manager who shares our beliefs in a conservative business-like approach to city government,” Heines said.

McDaniel said he wanted to stay in Texas and has had opportunities to go to other places in the state.

He was among four finalists for the Fort Worth city manager’s position in February. But after interviews, the Fort Worth City Council decided to have a search firm seek more candidates, according to a news release.

But then he said the Dallas position “was out there waiting for me when the time was right.”

“I’m very strong in my faith, and I believe very strongly that things happen for a reason, and it’s obvious now what He had in mind,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel has been Tyler's city manager since January 2009 and has worked for five cities during his career.

He was deputy city manager and then city manager for Tyler. Before that, he was assistant city manager in Corpus Christi.

In 2010, McDaniel was named City Administrator of the Year by the Texas City Management Association. He is vice president for the International City County Management Association representing the central U.S.

He also is a University of Texas at Tyler adjunct faculty member. 

When it comes to his role as Tyler city manager, “Mark has been the architect for culture change via the city’s highly successful Performance Excellence Program (PEP),” which “includes the most extensive use of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) methodologies for eliminating waste and gaining efficiencies among all cities in the U.S.” 

Employees participating in the program helped the city save $5 million and thousands of employee hours in 100-plus projects.

This year, Tyler achieved the coveted Texas Award for Performance Excellence (TAPE) — Progress Level from the Quality Texas Foundation. 

McDaniel’s other accomplishments include his role in the city earning an AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s in 2010, the city’s low property tax rate, no general obligation debt and, the city being named 2012 Community of the Year by the American Planning Association-Texas Chapter.

McDaniel said he is excited about his new position in Dallas, where his initial core responsibilities will be equipment building services, sanitation services, street services and water and wastewater utilities. 

“The process has been underway for not very long — just a few short weeks-and so it was just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s something I’m ready for.”

Still, he said, he has a lot of mixed feelings about leaving Tyler.

He said he’s lived here longer than anywhere else, so he has a lot of friends and connections to Tyler, his team, the City Council and the organization that has made the city’s successes possible.

“It’s kind of mixed emotions,” he said.

As far as the biggest accomplishment during his tenure as city manager, he referenced organizational development that has occurred “in empowering employees, professional development of employees (and) building the team stronger and stronger and stronger.”

“That’s reflected in the quality of work that’s being done. … It’s been about trying to really give the employees all the tools that they need to do their jobs very well and then have that alignment of our city’s goals as expressed in Tyler 1st with our strategic plan and our department business plans and the individual employee performance evaluations — that whole alignment that takes place. … I can’t really think of a whole lot of cities that have ever achieved that,” McDaniel said.

Then, he said, there’s being involved in Tyler 1st and the effort and all of the months and volunteer hours spent coming up with a plan that truly is the community’s plan.

McDaniel also discussed getting through the economic recession.

In the middle of that, he said, the city earned an AAA bond rating because of its strong fiscal discipline.

“A lot of it again goes back to those employees that day in and day out are getting the job done with the resources … available to them — just really quality people. That’s probably what I’m going to miss the most is the employees,” McDaniel said.

When asked what it was it like being city manager during the recession, he said it was a time period where it was challenging as far as the ability to keep things together and look years into the future to prepare and have the city in a position where it would still be in good shape if the recession continued beyond that year.

And so he said it was “pulling together as a team and making some tough choices.”

“The other thing is … I think it’s about even in good times having fiscal discipline not to overreach, so that when difficult times come, you are not over a barrel in terms of what your options are. You have more options available to yourself because you have fiscal discipline in good times and in bad,” McDaniel said.

In looking at the future, he said, “I think Tyler is now nationally known for a very well-run local government, and I think it also just has a strong reputation, so I think the city is going to be able to attract the best and the brightest on a national scale in terms of potential applicants to kind of carry the torch.”

Former Mayor Barbara Bass said McDaniel has been a phenomenal city manager, and his move to Dallas “is a great loss for our community.”

But she said Dallas is a wonderful opportunity for him.

“We know that the cities in other parts of Texas have been recruiting him heavily for quite some time. … So it’s obviously not a surprise that someone talked with him and met his requirements,” Mrs. Bass said.

“For our community, I think that it’s going to be very tough to replace him, to try to find someone with the skill set to keep what we have going moving forward.”

Mrs. Bass said going into any kind of search for the next city manager and looking at McDaniel’s replacement, there is a need to ensure that the salary for the position is competitive.

Tyler City Councilman Mark Whatley, who has worked with McDaniel for years and was on the Planning and Zoning Commission before becoming a councilman, said he is disappointed McDaniel is leaving but also happy he has this opportunity.

“He’s done an excellent job here, and he’ll do an excellent job wherever he goes,” Whatley said. “It’s hard to lose someone like that and not feel disappointed. He’s done a great job. He has the staff doing the right things.”

Whatley said McDaniel was instrumental in getting Tyler through the downturn economy and has been fiscally conservative, as has the City Council.

Today, he said, Tyler’s in a great position.

“We’re going to find the best city manager that we can for the city of Tyler, not just for now but looking forward into the future,” he said. “I think Tyler will be coveted. I expect a lot of good candidates because it’s been well-run. The next city manager’s going to step into a good situation.”