West U city manager discusses new job
After starting as West University Place’s new city manager on Tuesday, Jan. 22, David Beach sat down to talk about his new role, his priorities and the city he serves.
Beach had served as the city’s director of public works since 2015 and then also became the assistant city manager in January 2018. He came to West University in 2005 as the assistant to the city manager and said his years of working in local government beginning in Washington state in 1995 have equipped him well for the many hats a city manager must wear.
“Having a wide range of experience, I think, prepares you to be a (city manager) because you’re really a jack of all trades and a master of none,” Beach said. “You have the ability to go focus on an issue, come up to speed on it really quickly, to become the resident expert, but you have to know what you don’t know.”
A key, he said, is hiring competent people who know the details and have the proper expertise because a city manager can only do so much.
“No one can run the whole show by themselves, so I will be only successful as my employees are successful,” Beach said.
He named four priorities for his first six months: bettering communications and outreach to residents; addressing drainage issues and applying for grants; working toward the Buffalo Speedway replacement and drainage improvements; and promoting the city’s alarm-monitoring service, DirectLink.
Asked what West University does really well currently, Beach pointed to the city’s services.
“I live in Houston, so you can compare it. We have one of the lowest tax rates in the county for the city portion of the tax, and we provide a very high level of service, I think, over that aspect,” he said. “We provide very good services. Can we improve them? Sure. Police and fire are good. Our solid waste, last time we did a survey, 93 percent of the residents — it was a random survey, so calling around — 93 percent of them were satisfied or very satisfied with trash service.”
The people who call West University Place home are what makes it a great place to live, Beach said, giving the example that some residents leave Gatorade and cold drinks out for garbage collectors during summer months and warm beverages and food around the holidays.
“Like anything, you have your naysayers and stuff like that, but the overwhelming majority of people are great. They care about the community. They’re very involved,” he said. “They understand that we live in the fourth, possibly the third, largest metropolitan area in the nation, but retaining that small-town feel is very important to them.”