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Peñitas council names new interim city manager

The city of Peñitas named Omar Romero interim city manager for three months at a special meeting Wednesday.

“He’s done some work with the city as far as some of our finances are concerned,” Councilman Armin Garza said. “He’s been involved with the city ever since. Some of the council and myself believe he is the right man for the job right now.”

The vote was approved 3-0, with Mayor Rigo Lopez and Councilman Alex Guajardo absent. Romero was set to start work Thursday.

Romero has worked for Oscar Gonzalez, a certified public accountant, and City Attorney Oscar Longoria said Romero’s background with numbers is what the city needs right now. Romero also was chief of operations at RGV Harley-Davidson while it was under receivership, Longoria said.

Former City Manager Oscar Cuellar resigned from his post in July, stating that the city is changing direction. Police Chief Roel Bermea was named interim in Cuellar’s place, but Longoria said it’s difficult for the chief to wear both hats – city manager and police chief. The council wants Bermea to focus on his law enforcement duties, Longoria said.

The city sought applicants for the post in August and received 16 candidates. The applicants were great, Longoria said, but the council wasn’t 100 percent sure of any one candidate. Romero did not apply for the spot.

“I don’t think they decided that any one at this time could fill that void, so I think they just want to mull it over and see where we’re at in three months, and then at that point in time decide what’s going to be the best for the city,” Longoria said. “They’re not rushed to do anything. They’re doing it step-by-step.”

At the end of three months, Longoria said the city council will decide whether to terminate Romero’s contract, extend it or seek more applicants for the position.

A few of the applicants reported experience in city management, including Bernard Rodriguez, current city manager for the city of Edcouch. He included letters of recommendation from State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez. Juan Ortiz currently works as a consultant, but he reported experience as a city manager for the city of Elsa. Meanwhile, applicant Juan Cedillo is a project director for Hidalgo County and listed his experience as city manager of Edcouch, Elsa, Taft and Donna, among others.

Fabio Hernandez also applied for the city manager position. He most recently served as a teacher in Progreso, and previously served as assistant police chief in Alton and as a police supervisor for the city of Mission.

Applicant Arnold Flores is the administrative services director for Cameron County. He’s also worked for Sen. Lucio and State Rep. Eddie Lucio III.

Other applicants included a teacher with the Alice school district, a freelance consultant in Ohio and an advisor with the Health and Human Services Commission.

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