By Tony Parra
By Tony Parra
PNT Staff Writer
The verdict is in and the city of Portales will usher in a new city manager when Debi Lee of Hobbs takes over the position in mid-December.
“We selected her unanimously,” D.K. Shafer, city council member, said. “I believe she really likes Portales. She’s got a boy at Eastern (New Mexico University) and a girl that is coming back to work on her masters. I think she’ll be here until she retires and we (mayor and council) believe she will do a good job.”
Mayor Orlando Ortega and the city council chose Lee over Michael Steele of Croswell, Mich. during an executive session on Monday to fill the position, which has been vacant since the city of Portales dismissed Jerry Depo on Sept. 2.
Depo was released after city officials termed his performance as unsatisfactory. Depo did not comment at the time of the decision.
Ortega and the city council called Lee and she accepted the city manager position according to Ortega.
“She’s very excited to get the job,” Ortega said. “First and foremost she will handle the duties that come with city management. She’s going to jump in and hit the ground running. The council worked together and we were all in agreement that she was the best candidate.”
Portales began its search for a new city manager shortly after Depo’s termination with 42 applicants. The city narrowed its search to three applicants on Oct. 24 and the number dwindled to two, Steele and Lee, on Nov. 10.
“I believe she is a great choice,” Jake Lopez, city council member, said. “It’s the best choice we could have made. “It’s a plus for to have been working in the New Mexico government. She has more than 17 years experience.”
Joan Martinez-Terry and Tom Howell have been working as co-interim city managers since Depo was dismissed.
“I am very proud of the job they have done,” Ortega said. “I can’t stress enough their hard work and the hard work of the city council.
Lee is an assistant manager at Hobbs and has been working in the New Mexico government system. Lee attended Eastern New Mexico University in the late-1970s and is one year away from her degree.
Steele is the city manager of Croswell, a town of 2,467 people.
Lee could not be reached for comment.