New City Manager's First Goal: Rebuild Trust

3/7/2021

José Madrigal wants to rebuild residents' trust in the City of Durango through transparency in the city's finances and decision-making processes, and he wants and expects accountability for meeting the goals that the community wants accomplished.

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Durango's new city manager

has spent his first six months

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on the job meeting people,

crafting a strategic master plan

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and coordinating $800,000 of COVID relief

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for local businesses, and that's not all.

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You're watching the Local News Network

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brought to you by to Tafoya

Barrett and Associates

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and The Payroll Department.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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When we asked new Durango city manager

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Jose Madrigal how his wife

would describe him, he laughed.

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Very happy, very optimistic, positive,

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and loves to socially engage.

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Those would be kind of who I am.

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I don't get down on myself too much.

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I don't get down on failures or times

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where we stomp our feet or we go through,

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it's always about the next and moving on

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and always looking at that future goal.

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And Madrigal certainly

has been socially engaged

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since he arrived in September

to succeed former city mayor,

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Ron LeBlanc, who resigned last spring

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in the midst of controversy

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over a more stringent

performance evaluation proposed

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by a new city council.

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Madrigal's meetings with a

broad range of constituents are

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one of several strategies he

has set to reestablish trust

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and transparency in city government.

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And I know that even when

I looked at my calendar,

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everyone was like, "Wow, that's,

you've got like, you know,

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six hours a day of just

kind of meeting with people

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in the community."

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And I knew it was important.

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It was something that was

very well ingrained into me

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during the interview process

and a part of a challenge

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yet an opportunity of really

establishing that trust,

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and the biggest way that

you can do that is be part

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of the community and be

out in the community.

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So every moment that I can, I, you know,

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taking in new meetings,

meeting with people, talking

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about their issues, talking

about what their concerns were

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and, you know, beginning to

make, piece by piece slowly,

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rebuilding that transparency,

rebuilding that portion,

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and it, and it really does start

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with making those introductions,

talking about who we are

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and when that call

comes in for assistance,

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being there to help out.

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Madrigal grew up in Austin, Texas,

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and attended Texas Tech University

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where he completed a bachelor's

degree in political science

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and master's degree in

public administration.

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He has 17 years of municipal

government experience

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in central Texas, with 13 of those

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in executive leadership positions

that included all facets

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of city management from

public safety to public works

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to finance and communications.

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In addition to his

community outreach efforts,

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Magical coordinated an

$800,000 COVID relief package

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for city businesses, and he led the effort

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to develop a strategic plan to address

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some of Durango's most pressing problems.

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So I think right now the

biggest challenge, the biggest,

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I think, issue that we hear

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about all the time can be

summed up with affordability.

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That is what we're hearing

from the residents.

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We just went through our

strategic planning process

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and it was affordability,

affordable/attainable housing.

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So, you know, an ability

to, to grab a house

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and purchase a house, even

for those that you know,

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are making, you know, a

working wage here, and I think

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that's the biggest part and the

challenge that we'll have is

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how do we solve that issue to where we can

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kind of make Durango that

multi-generational place

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where kids can come back and live,

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where we can continue to go

through and it doesn't get

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to that portion to where

it's such an expensive place

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to live that we end up losing a lot

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of that local charm that we

have here in the community.

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Madrigal said the strategic plan

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also identified

homelessness as a priority,

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but it won't be solved easily.

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Nevertheless, the city

and La Plata County took

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a giant cooperative step

forward this winter,

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when it approved funding for

a homeless navigation program

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at Manna Soup Kitchen and formed

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a management-level task force

to ensure some progress.

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The task force includes both

city and county managers,

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attorneys a commissioner,

and city councilor.

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Will there be a solution next year?

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Probably not, but I will say

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that I think we're getting progress

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to where we're making

small continued steps

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to making to that big solution at the end.

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Madrigal admits that rebuilding

the community's trust

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in city government will take

more than a few handshakes.

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It will take transparency, setting clear

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and measurable goals, and accountability

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for meeting those goals

through the strategic plan.

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That's the biggest part of

what is my management style is

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that we're going to be strategic.

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We're going to hit the goals

that the community has outlined

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through the council.

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We're going to show our

progress within the projects.

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We're going to report back.

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We're going to let the citizens know, hey,

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this is where our work is.

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We're doing OpenGov right now, which is

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a really cool tool that I've

used that's going to open up

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our financials where anybody

can jump on at any time

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and take a look at what

we spend on our budget,

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where we're at on our

budget, what we spend

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through our check register,

you know, begin opening it up

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to where people can

come in and take a look

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and see that we're

open, we're transparent,

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you know what we're doing,

you know why we're doing it,

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may not agree, but at least you know why,

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and then you'll know the results

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of where we're coming from on it.

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Madrigal and his wife

Meredith have a blended family

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of five children.

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To learn more about the changes

that Madrigal hopes to bring

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to city government, visit DurangoGov.org.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the Local News Network.

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Be sure to stay on top

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of our latest news stories

on Twitter and Instagram

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or listen to us on your

favorite podcast app.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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