By Tony Parra
PORTALES — Debi Lee of Hobbs has been selected city manager in Portales. She is expected to begin in mid-December.
“We selected her unanimously,” said city council member D.K. Shafer. “I believe she really likes Portales. She’s got a boy at Eastern (New Mexico University) and a girl that is coming back to work on her master’s. I think she’ll be here until she retires and we (mayor and council) believe she will do a good job.”
Mayor Orlando Ortega and the city council chose Lee over Michael Steele of Croswell, Mich., to fill the position, which has been vacant since the city fired Jerry Depo on Sept. 2.
Depo was released after city officials termed his performance as unsatisfactory.
“She’s very excited to get the job,” Ortega said of Lee. “First and foremost she will handle the duties that come with city management. She’s going to jump in and hit the ground running. The council worked together and we were all in agreement that she was the best candidate.”
Portales began its search for a new city manager shortly after Depo’s termination with 42 applicants. The city narrowed its search to three applicants on Oct. 24 and the number dwindled to two — Steele and Lee — on Nov. 10.
“I believe she is a great choice,” said council member Jake Lopez. “It’s the best choice we could have made. … She has more than 17 years’ experience.”
Joan Martinez-Terry and Tom Howell have been working as co-interim city managers since Depo was dismissed.
“I am very proud of the job they have done,” Ortega said. “I can’t stress enough their hard work and the hard work of the city council.”
Lee is an assistant manager at Hobbs. She attended Eastern New Mexico University in the late-1970s and is one year away from her degree.
Steele is the city manager of Croswell, a town of 2,467 people.