For more than 30 years, Benny Davis has worked for the city of Santa Fe, witnessing major growth and changes to the quiet, rural community.
Davis, who moved to Santa Fe in 1978, starting working for the city as a police officer in 1985. In 1988, he became the city’s building official, responsible for code enforcement.
“We were around 5,000 people and now we’ve grown to around 12,000 people,” he said. “It’s kind of a handful. All of a sudden, your code enforcement work for the city increases.”
The growing city has caused everyone’s workload to increase in street and police departments, Davis said.
When a significant number of people move to an area, some aspects of a city are bound to hurt from it, Davis said.
“I think code enforcement has suffered a bit,” he said. “Sometimes, when we get issues that need to be addressed, we don’t respond to those as quickly as we would like to because we’re just busy.”
Davis, who turned 71 in January, decided it was time to begin the next chapter of his life and retire at the end of this month, he said.
“I love my job and I love the people I work with,” he said. “I’m ready to move on.”
Considering Davis’ contributions to the Santa Fe community for more than 30 years, it’s a shame to see him retire, City Manager Joe Dickson said.
“You hate to see a member of your family go,” he said. “He has seen a lot of changes and watched Santa Fe grow up. He’s worked well with citizens in city hall to get advice on building matters.”
Finding his replacement will be difficult because few people can explain code enforcement like Davis can, Councilman Bill Pittman said.
“He understands both sides from a builder’s perspective,” he said. “That’s a unique personality trait. He helps you, and he’s the most hands-on inspector I’ve ever worked with. He’s irreplaceable and I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s going to be missed.”
Once he steps out of the office, he hopes that Santa Fe will continue to attract new residents, Davis said.
“I think we’re going to continue to grow,” he said. “We are getting applications for new homes in here from people in the surrounding area that just want to move to the rural area. They want to move 20 minutes from a major shopping mall and 45 minutes from downtown Houston.”
An important project will be making sure the building department prospers and functions smoothly, Davis said.
“As far as goals for the city, I would like to see the building department continue as it has,” he said. “I feel confident it will continue to be effective.”
Co-workers like to call him the historian of the city. And Davis hopes to have a large presence outside the office, Davis said.
“I’m quite sure I’ll be doing inspections for the city when the new guy can’t get to it,” he said. “They know I’m just a phone call away.”