Joe Smolinski Is Ready To Move Mansfield Forward
Joe Smolinski has spent his life serving others, something he has dreamed of doing in some capacity ever since he was a little boy.
And now, as city manager of Mansfield, he’s serving his friends and neighbors on a daily basis in one of Texas’ most progressive cities.
“My childhood dream was to be a fireman or a policeman, but at the age of 19 I thought the fastest way to becoming a policeman was a five-year enlistment in the U.S. Army,” he said. “Yes, I now understand how flawed that logic was.”
It was, however, a step to where he is now, serving the citizens of the city he’s worked nearly two decades for.
“I came to work in Mansfield in 2001, and can honestly say that I have found this line of work extremely rewarding,” said Smolinski, who is from nearby Arlington.
While this is his first city to work for, public service is nothing new for Smolinski. He served America as a military policeman in the U.S. Army for seven years before joining the team in Mansfield.
“I am as proud of my service here as I am of my service to our nation,” he said.
Smolinski, who was previously the deputy city manager, had served as interim city manager since the sudden resignation of Clayton Chander in early June after 36 years in the position.
“I am honored that the city council has chosen me as their city manager. Just as importantly, I am honored to represent the countless public servants that provide our residents with the critical services they rely on,” Smolinski said.
Inspiration From Other Mansfield Leaders
He added that Chandler was a great inspiration to him, as have been several others.
“I have had the good fortune to serve alongside some excellent mentors in Mansfield. Bud Ervin, after whom the city’s water treatment plant is named, led by example and cared deeply for the community he’s called home for his entire life. Chris Burkett, after whom the city’s public works service facility is named, exhibited great patience and always maintained a sense of calm under pressure,” Smolinski said.
“Clayton Chandler, after whom a city park is named, exemplified what it meant to dedicate himself wholly to this community for every day of the 36 years he served as the city manager. Yes, each of them were an inspiration to me, and I would attribute my love for this city, in part, to each of them.”
Smolinski began his career in Mansfield in 2001 as a water treatment plant operator trainee. It wasn’t long before he worked his way up to the assistant director of utilities, and in 2010, he became the director of utilities when Ervin retired after 30 years of service. In 2015, he was named the deputy city manager over infrastructure and development.
“”The City of Mansfield is fortunate to have the depth of talent and expertise that we have among our employee organization, and Joe is a perfect example of that talent,” Mayor David Cook said. “His comprehensive knowledge of Mansfield is important to maintain continuity within the organization. At the same time he brings the vision, innovation and enthusiasm of someone who is looking at our city with fresh eyes. That’s a win-win for us all.”
And his greatest achievement with the city?
“My greatest achievement has been witnessing so many of those that I serve with earn their college degrees or a well-deserved promotion. Each of those accomplishments enables them to better serve this community or is the direct result of them having already done so,” he said. “Feeling like I’ve played a part in someone else’s success is what makes the long work hours and stressful days worth it.”
He’s not the only one in his family with the call to serve, he said.
“I love to talk about my family. God blessed me with amazing parents that have always been supportive and loving. My wife, who works in the medical field, is an incredible woman and has contributed to every successful facet of my life,” he said. “My oldest son is currently serving in the U.S. Army and is stationed in Savannah, Georgia. My daughter is working in the medical field while studying to become a nurse. My youngest son is planning to join the U.S. Army as well.
“”My sister works for a hospital system and her husband works for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. My brother and his wife are both educators. One of your earlier questions had to do with what sparked my interest in serving cities and their citizens.
“I wish everyone were as fortunate as I have been to have parents as wonderful as mine. My brother, my sister, and I have all tried to honor and respect them and, not surprisingly, each of us has been drawn to a partner that had the same values. Mom and dad are the simply the best people I know.”
Unique Challenge of COVID-19
As he takes the reins without the interim label, Smolinski faces the unique challenge of COVID-19.
How is COVID challenging you? What measures are you taking to battle it as you work to move the city forward even more? His heart goes out to every business owner, worker, resident, and employee that has been touched by the virus or the resulting economic uncertainty, he said.
“My coworkers have been really creative. Most meetings are taking place virtually. When they do have to meet in person they are strictly adhering to COVID occupancy rates in conference rooms and common areas,” he said. “We are all taking our temperatures daily and looking out for one another. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and we are finding ways to maintain operations despite facing new challenges. Their commitment to do so is what allows us to move the city forward.”
And he does plan to lead the already forward-thinking city into more new territory. There is a reason Mansfield has been one of Texas’ fastest and steadiest growing cities, and he plans to keep it that way.
“I expect to provide our residents with the best service we possibly can, on all fronts. People can choose to build or buy their home in any of our surrounding cities. We need to give them a reason to choose Mansfield,” he said. “The communities they select will be the ones that best support their families’ needs and the dreams they have for their children. Our goal (council and staff) is to make that choice an easy one.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community and everyone that calls it home. They will get nothing less from me than my best effort.”