DeSoto Community Joins City Manager Finalists for Reception and Q & A Session

DeSoto City Manager finalists graphic

The three finalists to become DeSoto’s next City Manager were front and center in DeSoto City Hall Thursday Evening for a meet & greet reception and to answer pre-submitted questions from residents that were designed to reveal the personal side of each candidate and the path they intend to lead DeSoto in during their potential tenure.

Mayor Rachel L. Proctor conducted a question-and-answer session with each candidate in the packed City Council Chambers. Since they would all be asked the same questions, only one City Manager candidate was allowed into the chambers at one time. The first candidate to address the crowd was Cheryl Harrison-Lee, the CEO of Harrison-Lee Development Consulting Company, who has close to four decades of experience in public administration.

Harrison-Lee told the gathering that she wants to serve in DeSoto because she believes that city management is a calling. “I started 39 years ago in it. I love it. I have not shifted careers, and here’s why. When I go to the doctor’s office, when that nurse takes my blood pressure I’m counting on her to read it correctly. Because if she doesn’t read it correctly and it’s elevated, I can go out and have a stroke. So I’m counting on her to do a job and do it correctly. And when she comes home, I know that she’s counting on me to do my job correctly. What they’re counting on is the next morning if there’s snow, we’ve had it moved. They’re counting on parks for their children. They’re counting on clean water. So, I value this. I believe that public service is a calling.”

Cheryl Harrison-Lee
Cheryl Harrison-Lee

The second finalist to address the crowd was Joseph L. Lessard,  who served as City Manager of Ashland, Oregon, Assistant City Manager for Austin, Texas, and Assistant to the City Manager of Dallas, Texas. Said Lessard of why he wants to lead DeSoto, “I think you have an impressive city. I think it’s on the cusp of change. I can’t tell you how quickly it’s going to come, but the way I look at it I think it’s coming and so the question I think is how do you manage it so you’re happy with the results? And I think you have to look at the issues that are coming from the recommendations that you have of potential solutions 360 degrees. Quite often everybody has a mindset that this is the answer. But have you really asked yourself what the opposite answer is? What’s the creative solution that may be totally different than what you have a perception of and sometimes what you’ll find is you had a weakness in your approach or it reinforces your approach and I think that’s a skill set that I hopefully bring to the table. It’s something that has been a hallmark of my career and I think it’s something that I could bring to the City of DeSoto.”

Joseph L. Lessard
Joseph L. Lessard

Majed Al-Ghafry, an Executive Engineer and educator with 35 years of government and private sector experience, was the third and final City Manager candidate to speak. He is presently the Assistant City Manager and Chief Economic Development Officer for the City of Dallas.

two men talking
Majed Al-Ghafry Photo credit City of DeSoto

When asked why he wanted to be the City Manager of DeSoto, Al-Ghafry replied, “I love DeSoto. I want to be a City Manager here. And I believe all of my opportunities for growth throughout my career has put me in a great position to be the next City Manager. I see a lot of faces that are familiar to me and that they know what my credo it. They know what my approach is. I work hard and I play hard. But I am absolutely committed to the organization that I work for. I’m committed to the City Council that I work for. And I’m very committed to the community that I work for. I’m very excited about getting to know every single person, every single street, and every single corner of the City of DeSoto and I’m here to serve you.”

DeSoto’s City Manager Candidate Community Meet & Greet was held on Thursday, April 18, 2024, from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM in the City Council Chambers of DeSoto’s City Hall. You can view the entire question-and-answer portion of the event

You can view multiple video clips and photo albums of the event on our Facebook page at

Please view our City Manager Finalists webpage for additional information and updates at

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