ICMA´s efforts to promote professional municipal management in Mexico moved a step forward in April with the help of ICMA members in two Phoenix-area cities. ICMA México-Latinoamérica staff accompanied a delegation from the municipalities of Culiacan and Navolato in the state of Sinaloa on two-day visits to Chandler and Surprise, Arizona, to learn how the U.S. cities manage urban growth and prepare for service demand and delivery.
In Surprise, they learned about the city’s new development permit process and how it fits into the city’s master plan, which projects very rapid growth in the coming years. They met with department heads responsible for public services such as water and solid waste management and with City Manager Bob Wingenroth. They also attended a city council meeting, where they were recognized by Mayor Sharon Wolcott and expressed their thanks to the city.
The delegation visited Surprise Stadium, the spring training home for two major league teams, the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. A farewell dinner in the city’s historic district was hosted by council member Rachel Villanueva and attended by Mayor Wolcott and City Manager Wingenroth.
The delegation’s host in Chandler was Assistant City Manager Nachie Marquez, a member who has supported ICMA efforts in Mexico for more than 15 years. The agenda started with a meeting with City Manager Richard Dlugas, and the visitors heard about Chandler’s history of rapid growth over the last 20+ years. That set the stage for the rest of the visit, which included presentations by the city water utility and public works directors, as well as a presentation of the city planning process.
In Chandler, the delegation also participated in the annual Public Works Department picnic, where they met with Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and with department staff, mostly those responsible for park maintenance—a topic of particular interest for the delegation.
Taking Steps at Home
After returning home, members of the delegation started weekly meetings to discuss the lessons learned and to define a work agenda. Among the priority topics are operational procedures for streets and parks maintenance and modifications in the regulations for new development to give the municipality more control—a change suggested by ICMA for a number of years.
The Mexico delegation was headed by Carlos Sanchez, Culiacan´s public works manager. His position, which includes urban development, was created based on an idea brought home from the ICMA conference in Boston in 2013 by Mayor Sergio Torres. Other members included Rogelio Alarcon, urban development director for Navolato; the director of the State of Sinaloa Council for Development (CODESIN); and the director for the Central Region of CODESIN.
Partnerships for Professionalism
CODESIN has been an ICMA partner in Sinaloa for more than 10 years in the promotion of professional management in local government, and the mayor of Navolato, Miguel Calderon, who also attended ICMA’s Boston conference, was responsible for the creation of the first nonpolitical municipal administrator position in the country. This innovation has created enough publicity that some mayoral candidates in other municipalities are promising that they will champion such positions.
As developments unfold, ICMA will continue to work with municipalities interested in introducing a professional administrator position in their governmental structure to advance professional management in Mexico and the Latin America region.
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