La Marque’s new city manager, Charles “Tink” Jackson, aims to implement the vision of the town’s five highest elected officials: the mayor, three councilmen and one councilwoman, he said.
“In the council-manager form of government, the city manager implements what they decide,” Jackson said. “They need to pass policies that reflect the will of the people, the ones who elected them. My job as a professional manager is to see that the work gets done.”
Jackson came to La Marque from Pearsall, a town of about 10,000 people southwest of San Antonio.
A native of New Mexico, where he taught high school, worked in business management and served as district supervisor of the state engineer’s office, Jackson turned to managing small municipalities in recent years, dragging Pearsall out of a morass he hesitated to get into but described as “a big mess.”
“When I first got there, Pearsall, or some dirt about Pearsall, was on the San Antonio news about twice a week,” Jackson said. That was in 2016. By 2018, town leadership was named by the Texas City Management Association as City Council of the Year.
“La Marque’s councilwoman saw the presentation about Pearsall at the association’s meeting and brought my name back to the city,” Jackson said.
A top priority for La Marque will be to inspire trust among residents through transparency and ethical behavior at the city, he said.
“We had to remove a council member in Pearsall,” Jackson said. “It was not friendly, but it was necessary to demonstrate the seriousness of city officials regarding taxpayers’ money.”
Jackson said he has watched trust in government erode all across the country in recent years, and he wants to bolster community trust in La Marque city government through open discussions in public meetings, fewer decisions made behind closed doors in executive sessions and making sure that residents’ questions are answered, either on the city’s website or in person.
Another priority is improving city parks, he said.
“A recurring theme I’ve heard from city leaders is the revitalization, renovation and development of city parks, providing more amenities,” Jackson said. Pearsall renovated two parks during his tenure, adding features that promote physical fitness, and those efforts were successful, drawing more community members to local parks, he said.
“There are plenty of parks here with a lot of potential, but they need work,” he said.
With some of the last remaining frontage on Interstate 45 between Houston and Galveston available for development, La Marque city leaders have identified orderly development as a priority that Jackson said he hopes to help implement.
Emergency response was another area of emphasis, he said.
“We need to make sure that we’re making all information accessible in the event of an emergency,” he said. “Everybody needs to know, in the event of an emergency, what do we do.”
When he meets with city departments and department heads, Jackson emphasizes one quality he has found indispensable in government: owning up to mistakes.
“I tell them, ‘Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. Don’t try to hide ‘em. Own up to it and fix it.’”
He has little patience for complainers fixated on problems and not on solutions, those he refers to as “squeaky wheels.”
“Squeaky wheels don’t fix things,” he said. “Grease fixes squeaky wheels.”