Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell has spent approximately 27 years in city management, and in that time he has worked in five states, two of them twice.
"In city management you move with the job," Stockwell said, noting that it usually means a three to five year tenure in any one place.
Stockwell was the guest speaker at Wednesday morning's Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary meeting. Stockwell talked to Rotarians about his philosophies when it comes to city management.
Stockwell said Sunnyside has quickly become home to him, explaining that the community was one in which he wanted to work. He said going from a city of 120,000 people to a community with 14,000 gives him the opportunity to have an impact and really get involved.
"What I saw in Sunnyside was an opportunity to do just that," Stockwell said.
He explained that in Provo, Utah, where he previously worked, he would rarely have an opportunity to talk to city workers. Stockwell said in Sunnyside he sees 75 percent of city workers on a regular basis, and has a chance to work closely with them.
Stockwell said when he looks at Sunnyside he sees an opportunity for the community to become what it wants to be, just in its own unique way. He explained that you can't always take what other cities have done and try to apply them to your own community. Instead, Stockwell said the best thing a city can gain from looking at what other communities across the nation have done is learn from their mistakes. Stockwell said this means more attention can be focused on what will work to make the community better.
Stockwell explained it by noting that business owners wouldn't do well selling a product they thought was great, but no one else wanted to purchase.
When it comes to Sunnyside, Stockwell said there are several things he wants to looks at as city manager. He began by explaining one of the challenges facing not only Sunnyside, but the entire state. He said the challenge is how local government will be funded in the future, noting that people's initiatives can mean that cities don't know what the new tax laws will be two or three years down the road.
Stockwell also talked about the city's organizational structure. He said he will be making recommendations to council, explaining changes he would like to see made in the structure. Stockwell noted that at every level of administration there should be the fewest people doing the job to ensure that taxpayer money is being used wisely.
"In our community, what we need are more people behind the wheel, more hands on the shovel," he said.
Stockwell also told Rotarians he would like to see the city look at working with other government agencies in the area, not only partnering with them but maybe going together on things like fuel contracts.