County manager resigns

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After five years at the helm, the Valencia County manager has announced his resignation from the county's top position.

While it might surprise some, County Manager Eric Zamora didn't really intend to stay in the position for quite so long. In April 2007, Zamora was appointed acting county manager after the termination of Francisco Apodaca.

Zamora was hired in November 2006 as the county's public works director and at the time of his appointment, Zamora said he didn't intend to stay on as county manager.

In July 2007, Zamora was hired as full-time manager and given a one-year contract. He stuck with the position until Monday, when he informed commissioners that his last day would be March 30.

"I want to spend more time with my kids, my family," Zamora said. "I spend a lot of time answering phone calls and email on the weekends, late meetings during the week."

But Zamora isn't heading for early retirement. He has accepted an offer from the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District as the Belen division manager.

"They wanted to get me in there at the beginning of irrigation season, but with all the new people coming on, I didn't want to leave the commissioners hanging," he said. "I wanted to make sure the transition was smooth and the people coming on board were up to speed. And this gives the commission a chance to find a replacement."

Commission Chairman Donald Holliday said with the lengthy notice Zamora has given, the commissioners are planning to hold a special meeting Monday to look at possibly revamping the county manager's job description.

"This has nothing to do with Eric's performance," Holliday said. "It's just that last time, it was such a quick thing. We got lucky with the first person we picked, but we might not get lucky again. We have the unique opportunity to look at what we want our manager to do and what direction we need to go."

While he was surprised by Zamora's announcement, Holliday said the county's loss was the district's gain.

"He has been of great service to the county and his time here is very appreciated," he said. "I'm sure with him there, the district will prosper and he will take them to the next level. But I do understand that family is the most important thing."

Over the last five years, Zamora said a lot has been accomplished at the county and there is more to come in the future.

"We are on the verge of really great things, with the professionals we have. Kudos really has to go to the staff who did the work," he said. "We've had a lot of turn over and we've seen where some departments could become more efficient and better run."

Zamora said he takes pride in the many things that have been accomplished during his tenure, such as the completion of the judicial complex, more roads paved and the improvements at the animal shelter.

"I think the biggest thing we've accomplished is helping the county weather the greatest economic depression since the Depression and come out with cash in the bank and able to give employees raises over the last four or five years," he said.

But as with many jobs, things are never finished. Zamora said there were some key projects he would have liked to finish before he left — the detention center expansion, implementation of a solid waste program and a county hospital.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.