Duncanville’s New City Manager Says “opportunity in Duncanville is both exhilarating and humbling”

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New City Manager Douglas Finch
Fabiola Finch and Douglas Finch join Duncanville Christmas parade-photo courtesy City of Duncanville

The City of Duncanville gave a warm welcome to their new City Manager Douglas Finch and his wife, Fabiola, last Friday. Events included a reception at City Hall, a Christmas tree lighting, parade, and holiday festival at Armstrong Park. City councilmembers; staff members; arts, chamber and civic leaders; and other members of the community showed up to greet the couple at the Dec. 1 reception.

Finch was selected as City Manager by the Mayor and City Council members following an extensive national search. He most recently served as the Town Manager of Canandaigua, New York from 2017-2023.

We are pleased to welcome Douglas Finch to the City of Duncanville,” Mayor Barry L. Gordon said. “We had an impressive pool of candidates from across the nation. From that pool, we narrowed it down to three exceptional professionals. Douglas was a standout. He is a proven leader with the knowledge, experience, and vision necessary to move our city forward.”

New City manager welcomed to Duncanville
Arts leaders Amy Jackson and Heather Winkleman welcome new CM and wife; Holt photo

 

Q&A With New City Manager of Duncanville

The following is a Q & A with Duncanville’s new City Manager. Douglas Finch will take over the position from interim CM Robert Brown on Jan. 8, 2024.

FDN: Please tell our readers why Duncanville, Texas seemed a good fit for you and your family, enough so that you would be willing to relocate across the country?

As I step into my new role as City Manager of Duncanville, I am filled with excitement for the professional journey ahead and the new experiences awaiting in this vibrant community.

My wife, Fabiola, and I have two wonderful daughters who embody ambition and dedication. Our eldest, 31, is a talented IT data analyst who recently married a firefighter from the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. Our youngest, 21, is a junior in college, passionately pursuing a degree in clinical psychology; she then plans to pursue her doctorate. Fabiola, a native of Mexico, with her global insight as a procurement manager working with companies worldwide, brings a unique perspective to our family about career and life. We are incredibly proud of our daughters and confident in the bright futures ahead of them.

Professionally, my 20-plus years in state and local government have been a journey of growth, challenges, and considerable achievements. Leading successful teams, driving strategic initiatives, and being at the forefront of impactful projects like constructing the nation’s first-ever universal design certified inclusive playground in Canandaigua, NY, have been highlights of my career. These experiences have honed my skills in strategic planning, economic development, infrastructure improvements, and community engagement.

Duncanville’s Potential

The opportunity in Duncanville is both exhilarating and humbling. This city’s potential for growth and development aligns seamlessly with my professional background and vision for planning and community-building. As the City Manager, I am eager to leverage my experience to foster collaborative efforts, drive innovative projects, and contribute to the future while balancing and honoring the past.

This move to Duncanville is more than a career transition. I am excited to meet people in the community and learn more about the businesses, the culture, offerings, opportunities, arts, and the rich history of the community. The warm welcome by residents, council members, and staff during our recent meet and greet was extraordinary.

New City Manager welcomed
Councilwoman DeMonica Gooden & City PR Director Alex Hamby at CM reception; Holt photo

I am eager to steer Duncanville toward a vibrant and prosperous future with the City Council, dedicated staff, engaged citizens, and a supportive community.

FDN: What particular challenges do you see in Duncanville, and are they very different from those you faced in New York?

As the new City Manager, stepping into this role brings a fresh set of challenges, distinct from those I encountered in New York. However, my experience in Canandaigua, New York, has equipped me with a versatile skill set and a flexible approach to municipal management that will be valuable in addressing these challenges.

1. Demographic Diversity: Duncanville boasts a richly diverse population, which is a strength but also presents unique challenges in ensuring city services and community initiatives are inclusive and meet the varied needs of all residents. While we also embraced diversity in Canandaigua, the demographic makeup was different; however, my personal experience has also helped me understand other perspectives. I have learned so much from my wife about the Hispanic culture, the pride of the Mexican people, and the importance of family in the Hispanic culture. Learning these perspectives from her has enabled me to be more open and look for ways to serve our diverse population more than I probably would have even ten years ago.

2. Financial Planning: In Duncanville, I see an opportunity to leverage my extensive experience in strategic multi-year budgeting to ensure long-term financial sustainability and accountability. This approach is vital for a city’s growth, as it provides a clear roadmap for financial resources and helps anticipate future challenges and opportunities. In Canandaigua, New York, I led the development of multi-year financial strategies that significantly stabilized tax rates and ensured steady revenue sources, minimizing the impact on taxpayers. Transparency and accountability in budgeting are vital in maintaining public trust and ensuring fiscal responsibility. This experience will be invaluable in Duncanville, where the focus will be on creating a robust financial plan that aligns with the city’s development goals, supports capital projects, and ensures efficient allocation of resources.

Capital Projects

Effective management of capital projects is crucial for a city’s infrastructure and development. In Canandaigua, I oversaw significant projects, including constructing the first-ever universal design certified inclusive playground and various infrastructure developments. This experience will directly apply to managing Duncanville’s capital projects, from initial planning and securing funding to overseeing project execution and ensuring timely completion. My approach emphasizes meeting project timelines and budget constraints, quality assurance, and aligning these projects with the broader strategic goals of the city.

By integrating these financial and project management strategies, I aim to contribute to Duncanville’s growth while maintaining fiscal responsibility, enhancing city services, and improving its residents’ overall quality of life.

3. Economic Development: Duncanville, part of the dynamic Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, presents distinct economic development opportunities and challenges. The city’s strategic location offers vast growth potential, yet it also requires careful planning to balance development with preserving the community’s character. In New York, the focus was more on leveraging natural resource protection, tourism, and the community’s dynamic green build-out, increasing its value from $900M to $2.6B in assessed value. Here in Duncanville, it will be more about harnessing the city’s potential as a suburban economic hub while supporting diversity and honoring community tradition and history.

Duncanville Infrastructure

4. Infrastructure and Planning: With Duncanville’s growth, infrastructure development and planning are key challenges. The city’s proximity to major urban centers means that managing and maintaining infrastructure are crucial tasks. In Canandaigua, the challenges centered on managing resources in a tourism-focused town, new build-out construction of multi-family mixed-use facilities, and form-based code opportunities while accommodating seasonal population fluctuations. My experience includes years of service on the Board of Directors of the NY Planning Federation and working with the American Planning Association (APA) to support best planning practices.

FDN: How is your house hunting going?

Fabiola and I had the opportunity to spend time touring the City of Duncanville during our recent visit, looking at neighborhoods and housing options. We have identified a rental within walking distance of City Hall for now, providing both convenience and an excellent opportunity to get to know Duncanville intimately. This approach allows me to immerse myself in the community immediately, understand its nuances, and find a neighborhood that feels like home before making a long-term commitment. It also demonstrates our commitment to being an integral part of the community to residents and city staff.

We intend to take our time to do a more thorough search to identify our forever home, looking at options that will work best for us; as well as options for comfort for our anticipated visits from family members and friends who we expect traveling to Duncanville to visit.

New City Manager’s Additional Comments

The warm welcome extended to me by the Duncanville community, the City Council, City staff, and Interim City Manager Robert Brown has been extraordinary. Everyone has been friendly and receptive to us as we transition. One aspect that particularly excites me about Duncanville is the community’s commitment to balancing growth with preserving its unique character. The city’s diverse community and strong sense of identity create a dynamic environment where innovative ideas and traditional values can coexist and thrive.

In my role as City Manager, I am committed to being accessible and responsive to the needs of all residents. I plan to actively engage with the community through various forums and events, ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and considered in our city’s governance.

Additionally, I emphasize my commitment to maintaining an open-door policy. It’s essential for me to be approachable and available, not just to the staff at City Hall but to every resident, business owner, and stakeholder of Duncanville. My goal is to foster an environment of transparency and open communication where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and visions for our city. Your insights will be instrumental in shaping our strategies and actions going forward. I look forward to meeting many of you, hearing your stories, and working together to continue building our City of Champions.

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Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.

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