Sunset Valley welcomes new council members amid city staffing transitions

Sunset Valley City Council welcomed two new members and thanked two who are retiring from council for their service. From left are: New Council Members Karen Medicus and Wanda Reetz, Council Member Melissa Gonzales, Mayor Rose Cardona, retiring Council Members Ketan Kharod and Marc Bruner, re-elected Council Member Rudi Rosengarten and Council Member Phil Ellett. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sunset Valley City Council welcomed two new members and thanked two who are retiring from council for their service. From left are: New Council Members Karen Medicus and Wanda Reetz, Council Member Melissa Gonzales, Mayor Rose Cardona, retiring Council Members Ketan Kharod and Marc Bruner, re-elected Council Member Rudi Rosengarten and Council Member Phil Ellett. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Sunset Valley City Council welcomed two new members and thanked two who are retiring from council for their service. From left are: New Council Members Karen Medicus and Wanda Reetz, Council Member Melissa Gonzales, Mayor Rose Cardona, retiring Council Members Ketan Kharod and Marc Bruner, re-elected Council Member Rudi Rosengarten and Council Member Phil Ellett. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

November has been a month of transitions for the city of Sunset Valley, which elected two new City Council members Nov. 5, saw two members step away from the dais and saw two longtime city staffers leave their positions.

Mayor Rose Cardona swore newly elected Council Members Karen Medicus and Wanda Reetz into office for the first time Nov. 19, while Rudi Rosengarten was sworn in after winning her re-election.

Cardona also thanked Council Members Ketan Kharod and Marc Bruner for their years of service to the city. Both did not file to run for re-election this fall when their terms expired.

“[These are] two council members that I think everyone in the room would agree were hard-working, positive, always willing to meet, talk, do the hard work and give extra time if needed when asked,” Cardona said.

After the ceremonies, City Council elected Reetz as mayor pro tem for the next year in a 3-2 vote, with Council Member Melissa Gonzales making the motion and Council Members Phil Ellett and Rosengarten voting against the action. During discussion, Rosengarten said that she wanted to nominate Ellett for the position and thought that, traditionally, City Council elected someone with previous council experience to the post.


Katy Philips resigns as public works director

Public Works Director Katy Philips submitted her resignation to the city Nov. 11 after 21 years of service. The city will host a goodbye celebration Jan. 2, which would have been her 22nd work anniversary, according to a letter to the community by Cardona.

In the letter, Cardona said Philips is the city’s longest-serving employee, is loved by many in the community and helped maintain many programs in the city.

The announcement came about two weeks after longtime Assistant City Administrator Sara Wilson was fired by the city in early November.

City staff filling in as assistant city administrator position is evaluated

After Wilson’s dismissal, a special called meeting was held Nov. 6 to discuss the city’s current course of action regarding the position. City Council discussed the role of an assistant city administrator in the city, if the position should be filled in the future and how roles are being filled in the interim to continue city services.

“Tough decisions are just that—tough,” City Administrator Sylvia Carrillo-Trevino said Nov. 6. “When I first arrived, I gave staff the opportunity to fill out a roles and responsibilities sheet. Part of my role as an administrator is to develop staff and find out what makes them tick. I do take personally the topic of ‘the system is broken,’ because staff expressed that to me on my way in.”

She said in the interim while the necessity of the assistant manager position is being evaluated by City Council, the roles and responsibilities previously filled by Wilson will be divided among current city staff.

Roles were reassigned based on feedback she received when staff filled the role and responsibility sheets, aligning professional interests or goals with duties. For example, Police Chief Lenn Carter, who showed an interest in city management, will fill some of the administrative duties at the city level and receive training, she said. Other staff will take on development and public works responsibilities.

“I have a duty to the organization to help him develop in that role,” she said.

City Council did not take action on the position at the meeting. However, residents and council members showed their support for both Carrillo-Trevino's decision and Wilson’s past work.

“Most, if not all, of our staff members have had a lot of emotions to get through the last few days,” Cardona said Nov. 6. “Many staff members have had tears to shed, and [tears] came yesterday and today [for me].”

Philips’ resignation from the city Nov. 11 did not impact any of the role realignments discussed Nov. 6, according to Cardona.