After 31 years in the field, Gerald Depo says he’s done working in local government.
Depo, stripped of his city manager stripes Tuesday by unanimous vote from Portales’ city council, said the field is extremely demanding: The issues are more complex, city council members are more involved and the atmosphere of the profession is more tense.
“I would say I think people in the profession are getting meaner and meaner,” Depo said. “The issues are stressful. The issues are so complex. They (the issues) are not easy and people look at the issues in black and white.”
Mayor Orlando Ortega and city council members described Depo’s performance as city manager as “unsatisfactory,” a claim Depo adamantly disputes.
“I don’t believe my performance was unsatisfactory, but certainly not excellent,” he said. “I thought I did an average to above-average job for my first year in the position.”
Depo thinks he tackled the more important projects well, among those being planning for a water pipeline project from Ute Lake near Logan.
City officials have not provided details about the reason for Depo’s firing, but city attorney Stephen Doerr and Depo likened Depo’s relationship with the city council as a marriage that wasn’t meant to be.
Among his triumphs, Depo said he was proud to help all city employees obtain raises. Even so, Depo still believes city employees are underpaid.
“Look at what (Portales Police) Chief Jeff Gill is going through at the police department,” Depo said. “He’s having trouble with his officers leaving and going to departments that pay more.”
Depo, who served one year as a Marine in the Vietnam War, worked 30 years in local government in Bloomsburg, Penn., a town about twice the size of Portales that Depo described as a model for technology in a rural setting.
Regarding his co-workers, Depo said city employees are excellent and dedicated to their jobs.
While in Pennsylvania, Depo said he served on the Ben Franklin Technology Board, a nationally prestigious group dedicated to advancing technologically.
During his tenure in Portales, Depo said state officials designated Portales as a model for technology in a rural community.
“I was trying to do the same in Portales as I did in Bloomsburg,” Depo said.
Depo said he spent between $600 and $1,000 this year out of his own pocket to promote the city, something city officials confirmed.
Depo said he isn’t sure what his next move will be. He said he may look for a job in technology, which he calls one of his strengths.
But he also said he is an avid reader, and thinks being a book store owner or a librarian would be neat.
“If I died and was reincarnated I would want to come back as a librarian or a book store owner,” Depo said, “and I can’t be a book store owner because I’d steal all the books.”