SELMA – It’s been nearly nine months that the city of Selma has been without a full-time city manager. After the April 3 City Council meeting, however, that’s changed.
Former Fowler City Manager David Elias was officially hired and sworn in after accepting the position. Selma City Council members say they chose Elias based on his decades of experience.
Selma Mayor Mike Derr said that Elias was chosen over other candidates after pointing out several areas in the city budget during the interview process where he could see room for improvement.
“His history with Fowler has been stellar. He’s taken them from bankruptcy to having one of the most stable in Fresno County,” Derr said.
The council voted 4-1 to appoint Elias, with Councilman Louis Franco as the lone ‘no’ vote. Franco declined to go into details but said he had concerns over the circumstances in which Elias left his employment with Fowler.
“Until those concerns are fully resolved, I personally think we should continue to look forward. However, my colleagues have decided otherwise. I just wanted to let you know that I’ll work with you in a very professional manner to move this community forward.”
In response, Elias said that he had retired as Fowler’s city manager and that “after 30 years, sometimes a change of scenery is needed for both sides. People change as well as visions and direction.”
Elias had served as Fowler’s public utilities superintendent and public works director before spending the past 18 years as their city manager.
Elias said he’s looking forward to helping Selma grow economically.
“I look forward to leading this community to the next step in broadening the opportunities to bring jobs and recreation,” he said.
Elias also has personal connections to the community.
“It’s been a life-long dream since my mother was born here and went to school here and I still have family in this community.”
Elias’ wife, Linda Elias, son Alex Elias, daughter Megan Elias and grandson Jack Lucero were also in the audience, as were Fowler City Mayor and his wife, David and Anna Cardenas, and Fowler Councilman and his wife, Mark and Torri Rodriguez.
Selma Councilwoman Yvette Montijo said seeing his former employers' show of support spoke volumes to her.
“The reason I voted for Dave Elias is number one, his reputation precedes him. Number two, is his experience. Right now, Selma didn’t have time to bring in a novice and show him the ropes. We needed someone who could come in here and get moving,” she said.
Montijo also applauded what Elias was able to accomplish regarding commercial and residential development.
“For such a small town, [Fowler] has beautiful homes and large-sized lots and a lot to offer. They’ve come from being a nearly bankrupt city to one of the most prosperous in our region. Those are some things that the people in Selma have been clamoring for. We’re hoping he can bring those talents and skills to work for Selma.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Avalos said he thinks Selma will benefit from Elias’ connections.
“I’ve gotten to know David from committees I’ve served on. I’ve seen his contacts and how he got things done. For him to attract businesses and motels, you’ve got to give the man credit because he didn’t have all the staff like the city of Selma does.”
Councilman Scott Robertson agreed, saying that Elias “did great things culturally and economically” for Fowler. “They’re way ahead financially and he did things in terms of the city employees that I admired greatly. I thought he had a great track record and a lot of experience he’ll be able to bring to bear to benefit Selma and our citizens.”