How long have you been a FCCMA member?
Are you an ICMA member and if so, how long?
Yes. Since 2015
Please describe your areas of formal/advanced education.
Bachelors of Fine Arts, Communications, Brigham Young University
Masters of Public Administration, University of Utah
What got you interested in public service?
I hate to give away my youth, but I first got interested in public service in 3rd grade when I read a children’s biography of President George H.W. Bush and his time in World War II. Since then I ventured into several areas of public service, but I ultimately found my home in City Management.
What is your current occupation?
I currently work for the City of Haines City, FL as the Assistant to the City Manager.
Please give a brief job description.
The Assistant to the City Manager role in Haines City is somewhat of a utility player. I work on initiatives by the City Commission or City Manager, and assist several departments with special projects. A few projects include rewriting the Utility Billing Code of Ordinance and RFQ’s for city-wide continuing services; tracking down ownership of blighted properties; managing press releases, social media and public relations; developing a three to five year strategic communications plan; and filling in as the Interim Parks and Recreation Assistant Director for six (6) months as well as an Associate Planner for two (2) months.
Please describe your typical day.
There is no such thing as a typical day. I have my routines of responding to e-mail, checking to-do lists and scanning the news every morning. From there, each day is a broad range of responding to citizen inquires, conducting policy research and analysis, attending meetings and working on any assignments directed my way.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is the variety each new day presents. I love problem solving. I love when it seems like the deck is stacked against you, but somehow you manage to find a way to make it work and get it resolved. I also truly enjoy helping residents who come in frustrated or upset over something and then helping them walk away feeling heard and resolved. It can definitely be exhausting, and some people never walk away happy, but I believe most people just want to be heard and have concerns resolved. I think public servants provide an excellent outlet to help citizens resolve whatever issues be on their minds.
What is your least favorite part of the job?
I think my least favorite thing is something that exists in every position and in every organization—complaining. Nothing ruins moral, nor stagnates negativity longer than complaining. There is value in airing frustrations, but move on and seek solutions. “Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better.” – Unknown
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
I have had several memorable moments in Haines City, but I think that my most memorable moment was during a City Commission meeting when we honored the Alumni of the former Oakland High School. The Alumni Association worked diligently to have their former High School recognized by changing the name of a City Parks and Recreation complex where the former High School once stood. After changing the name of the building and honoring the alumni during a City Commission Meeting, I had the privilege of also recognizing an Alumni member who led the charge for the name change by wearing the school’s colors (orange and green) at every City Commission meeting until the name was changed. After presenting her with a plaque for the Alumni Association, as well as flowers and a certificate for her personal efforts, she gave me a big hug and said, “Oh David, I love you. Thank you so much.” That was a rewarding moment.
What are hobbies/interests?
I’m an outdoorsman and love sports. I’m a runner, a cyclist, (I try to be a swimmer), and most anything that includes the outdoors. I also play the guitar, sing and write all of my own music (when I can find time). More importantly, I devote most of my time to my wife, three children and faith in God.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people interested in a career in public service, what would it be?
Every skillset is needed in public service, but every part of public service requires working with the public. If you go into public service, make sure that you enjoy helping and serving the community.
Who were your mentors and how have you passed this information down to other young public administrators?
I have had several mentors professionally. Rather than name them all, I will say that my mentors have ranged from City Mangers to Department Directors and Staff. I try to glean information, lessons and feedback from those who have more expertise in areas than I do.
Have you always been in the public sector or have you had experience in the private sector?
I started my career working for a public relations firm for nearly three (3) years. We focused primarily on government contracts. I worked on events and projects involving transportation, wildlife, and water resources. However, I also managed projects for two (2) oil refineries and two (2) pipelines, working closely with surrounding municipalities, media and the community. From there I went into non-profit management, writing grants for a campus of museums, managing communications for a statewide food bank and eventually serving as a District Executive Director for the American Cancer Society. During this time, I also managed and consulted two (2) consecutive campaigns for a state representative in Utah who beat out a 21-year incumbent. However, after spending time in non-profit management and politics, I realized that my real passion was serving in the public sector. So I went out on a limb, quit my job as an Executive Director and did an executive fellowship under the City Manager of Bountiful, Utah. This fellowship eventually led me to my current role as the Assistant to the City Manager in Haines City, FL.
What career would you pick if you were to pick another?
Most likely a high school teacher.