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Manila to succeed Gieselman in county post

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by Michael Kanin

The Travis County Commissioners Court has selected their current director of public works, Steve Manila, to become the next executive manager of the county’s Transportation and Natural Resources Department. Manila will succeed the retiring Joe Gieselman, who will leave county service after 36 years at the end of January.

Manila was selected after a relatively compact search. He was one of two finalists for the position.

The court voted 3-0 to appoint Manila. Their action came very late in the day and after Precinct 3 Commissioner Karen Huber and Precinct 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez had left to attend to other matters. County Judge Sam Biscoe, however, had indicated last week that the court was on the same page with their decision (see In Fact Daily, Dec. 2).

After the vote, Precinct 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt explained her take on Manila’s promotion. “He’s a good manager, he knows the issues on the ground, he has good working relationships both with other governmental entities as well as knowing the players inside the development community,” she said. “The learning curve is pretty flat for him.”

 

Biscoe echoed those thoughts. “Familiarity with county government, familiarity with staff — you know that promotes continuity,” he said. “The other thing is that Texas has a lot of weird transportation policies (and) funding schemes. He’s worked with (the Texas Department of Transportation), been the county’s point person on transportation issues for a long time, and been a close second to Joe Gieselman.”

 

“Joe’s been around, it seems like forever,” Biscoe continued, “and Steve, half of forever.”


Manila first came to the county in 1994. He left in 2000, after rising to the position of director of the county’s Engineering Services Department. He returned in January of 2006, at which point he assumed his current duties.

He beat out Richmond, Va.’s deputy director of public works operations, Marvin Williams, for the position.

The county received 100 applications in the wake of Gieselman’s retirement announcement. That initial group was culled down to six or seven candidates. Four of those were selected to visit the county as finalists.

After in-person interviews, a group of high-ranking Travis officials cut two of the finalists. That left Manila and Williams.

Manila inherits one of the more important positions in county management. “It’s a very important position from an administrative standpoint,” said Eckhardt.

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