Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Commission acts swiftly to replace city manager

More than 30 years ago, Joe Thomas came to Clovis to pursue a career in law enforcement. His plan was to work as a patrolman with the Clovis Police Department for a few years, then return home to Tucumcari and run for sheriff of Quay County.

The plan never reached fruition. Thomas found a home in Clovis. In two weeks, he will be in charge of his adopted city.

The Clovis city commission on Thursday unanimously approved Thomas as the new city manager, succeeding Ray Mondragon, whose resignation is effective Dec. 17.

Mondragon has accepted a position with ENMR-Plateau.

Thomas, 54, will be managing a multi-million dollar budget in a city experiencing economic growth.

“This is an awesome responsibility,” Thomas said. “I’m honored and humble to be considered. It’s going to be a challenge every day ... I’m up for that challenge.”

Clovis’ assistant city manager the past three years, Thomas worked 21 years with the Clovis Police Department and served for 1 1/2 years as the assistant police chief. He left the department to accept a job as the city’s public works director, a title he held for eight years.

As city manager, he will make $95,000 annually, roughly $30,000 more than his current salary.

“We look forward to a successful relationship with elected officials and department heads ...” Clovis Mayor David Lansford told Thomas.

Thomas inherits the daunting task of finding money for what he described as “substantial” pay increases for city employees. City police officers received a $714,000 pay increase last month, a decision that upset other employees who did not receive raises.

Thomas said he will meet with city employees to gain their confidence, and he hopes to obtain significant pay increases for many of them by July.

Commissioner Cathy Haynes said Lansford spearheaded the move to hire Thomas, and there was some talk about hiring him as an interim city manager and opening the position to applicants.

“Joe knows the city like the back of his hand,” she said. “For stability sake, with all the things we have going on right now, we felt like it was important to keep that momentum going. The city commission has a lot of faith in him. He’s a very humble guy who has the city’s interest at heart.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

• The city commission approved a Community Development Block Grant application for $500,000 in federal funds for a new building at Play Inc.

If secured, the money — with a 10 percent match from the city — would fund an adjacent structure to the Play Inc. city pool on Seventh Street.

City Grant Coordinator Sandy Chancey said the last time the city was awarded a Community Development Block Grant was in 1999, but she said she’s confident this year the city has a good chance.

Last year, Chancey said, a state council that allocates the money denied a similar request from the city to fund a new building at Play Inc. She said problems with last year’s request have been ironed out.

The city commission chose to apply for the $500,000 rather than apply for $313,000 that would have gone to refurbish sidewalks in low- and middle-income neighborhoods.