Mayor, City Council members react to Sheryl Sculley's retirement decision

Sculley to step down in 2019; will help with transition of new city manager

By David Ibanez - Web - Managing Editor, Van Darden - Managing Editor, Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio City Council members had plenty to say after City Manager Sheryl Sculley announced Thursday that she will retire, effective in 2019.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg

"Sheryl Sculley has been a truly outstanding city manager. She has delivered 13 years of exemplary fiscal stewardship. Under her leadership, San Antonio has become the best-run big city in the country.

"I thank Sheryl for all that she has done for the city of San Antonio. Her outstanding service has made San Antonio government more efficient, more cost-effective and a national model. 

"Our well-run city government has played a major role in attracting economic development, improving the city's infrastructure and providing a better quality of life for our residents. 

"Being city manager is a tough job. After 13 years on the front lines making difficult and controversial decisions, Sheryl has more than paid her dues as the longest-serving city manager in San Antonio's history. 

"I respect her decision to retire, and I appreciate her willingness to stay on as city manager during the transition process to ensure a smooth beginning for her successor.  

"Sheryl instilled a new level of professionalism, and developed an extraordinarily strong team of talented, dedicated executive leaders. Several of them are clearly qualified to assume the role of city manager.

"I will work with my City Council colleagues to launch a selection plan immediately.

"We will ensure that San Antonio has the best possible executive leadership and maintains the tradition of strong professional management and fiscal stewardship while respecting the will of the voters."  

District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña

“Sheryl Sculley’s announcement comes after a successful career of working under the hood of San Antonio’s major operations for 13 years. 

"As any athlete knows, one day you’ll throw your last pitch or make your last pass, the question will be if your team will be stronger in your absence. Having witnessed the team Sheryl has put together, I’m confident that we will be a stronger city because of what she has built. 

"Her legacy is not only in the building of fire stations, streets, parks, and Pre-K centers, but in the bullpen of A- plus players she has trained to be ready to pick up where she left off. She was the right person at the right time, and San Antonio owes her a big thank you. 

"From filling potholes to creating nationally recognized Pre-K centers, her leadership guided the team that has made it possible. We are hiring more police officers, graduating more fire fighter cadets, building more streets, increasing pay for city employees, and enhancing our parks/library system since she arrived in 2005 – all without increasing taxes.  

"San Antonio is in a better place because of her professionalism, experience, and management. She retires as a model of professional leadership that women and men can look up to.”

District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales 

"Over the years, Sheryl has done incredible work for the city. We've had the largest bond programs we've ever seen and we continue to make great improvements in the city. So it's unfortunate, but it's her time. It was on her terms. She felt like the timing was right, so we look forward to continued progress in the city."

Q: What was your reaction to the news?

"Not a surprise. About two years ago she had mentioned a desire to retire. So over the years, we sort of figured that she would at some point. But there were some really important things going on, especially the 2017 bond program and the Alamo and a couple of other things that she mentioned wanting to work through. So not a big surprise. She's been planning it for a couple of years now."

Q. Are you at all concerned with the passage of Proposition B that it's going to be more difficult to find a higher quality candidate?

"We have great people here in San Antonio that can fill that position. I think it would be a concern of anybody taking a job that they would ultimately be term-limited. I think that's where the bigger concern is, the timeline. But we have great faith in our existing staff to take on that roll."

Q: What do you think a city without Sheryl Sculley looks like?

"I think it looks exactly the way it does today. We're looking forward to continuing the progress and continuing the work. We have a great staff in place. We've got great leadership on the council as well so we're just looking forward to continuing to move."

District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse

"I think the city manager has made the right decision by honoring the will of the voters and the people who spoke loudly and clearly on Nov. 6 to limit the pay and power of the city manager position here in San Antonio.

"I've said from Day 1 -- although I've called consistently for change in the city manager's office since I took office -- I mean, this is what I ran on: Changing City Hall to make sure it's more responsive to the people, and that we listen to the citizens. 

"So I think that at the end of the day, we wish her well in the future. She's been a great success for San Antonio but the time has come for change. 

"When you started paying council members full-time salaries, when you extended our term limits, we became more than a board of directors. We are now taking back that power and leadership in San Antonio and at City Hall and that's good for everybody -- it becomes much more responsive when the elected officials are in charge of the decision-making at City Hall.

"And you know what, there's been huge successes, and thank you to Sheryl Sculley for that. We can be thankful but also look to the future. 

"And I tell the citizens of San Antonio this: There was always going to be life after Sheryl Sculley. Thirteen years was a long and distinguished tenure. But going forward in the future, we're going to be a new San Antonio, with new leadership and new opportunity, and this council has to grab ahold of that and lead this community by listening to the neighborhoods and the people.

"I'm thankful for the time she's given us but I'm really looking forward to the future, being able to work for our community by working as hard as we can here at City Hall."

District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval

“Ms. Sculley has been with us 13 years – an era in terms of City management.

“In that time she has transformed how our City operates, making it more efficient, more sustainable, and fiscally stronger than ever before. She has had tremendous accomplishments in her tenure. Chief among them is the strong, capable team of consummate professionals she has assembled among the ranks of City staff.

“There’s no doubt that our City will continue to be strong because of this legacy. Having worked with Ms. Sculley for the last year and a half, I am tremendously grateful for her service and the many benefits it has brought to San Antonio.”

District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez

"The news is surprising and it's sad to me. San Antonio is, in my opinion, one of the most admired cities on the planet. It's a city where people move from other places to come live, work, play. We're a city that during the recession, you know, we did better than any other city in the United States. We continue to attract very important jobs. And you know it's not up for debate in large part that's because of the work Sheryl and her team do every single day. They make sure we've got clean parks, safe streets, good neighborhoods, excellent utilities, she'll be missed.

"I suspect all of us recognize that this is going to be a hard transition. I think that all of us recognize that it's now incumbent upon us to do everything we possibly can to make sure that San Antonio continues to be a city where people want to live work and play.

"I asked Sheryl if I could do anything to change her mind, but she seems to be resolute in this decision of hers, and we're equally resolute in making sure that she continues to work with us between now and the end of June until we find the kind of replacement that San Antonio deserves. And what San Antonio deserves is excellence.

"Nobody can deny that 13 years is a really good run. Lots of people retire.

"Sometimes when your star player retires, you retire their number, as well, and in my book Sheryl has been No. 1. She has made sure that we are a AAA-bond-rated city. We are financially sound, that we're a city with an excellent team of people who show up to work every single day making sure San Antonio is the best of the best. 

"It's got to look like a city that continues forward momentum."

District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry

"Sheryl has been very good for this city. Everybody talks about the AAA bond rating. The business community is very, very happy about her performance. She's done some very good things for San Antonio.

"I've gone through that transition twice in my life. I retired five years totally and here I am on council. I feel very confident that she's going to stay active here in San Antonio and be a part of this community. So congratulations on a job well done."

Q: What was the general reaction in the room? 

"There was silence in the room, surprise, shock."

Q: Did anybody see this coming?

"I did not see this coming."

Q: Did she mention anything about how Prop. B played into this?

"She's leaving on her own terms. She feels it's time. She mentioned that she's wanted to retire several times already. But she feels this is the right time."

Q: What do you think the city without Sheryl Sculley is going to look like?

"The city is in good shape partly because of Sheryl and she has done a great job.It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. We're going to put somebody in there (who) will do a good job and keep building on that progress."

Q: Do you think there's going to be any limitations because of Proposition B as far as the good talent that you could pull to get someone of the same caliber?

"That was discussed during the debates leading up to the election. We don't know until we get there."

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