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Myra L. Ayala, Edinburg’s city manager, commands $225,000 annual salary in a top leadership role where Texas women are the rare exception

FEATURED: Myra L. Ayala, Edinburg’s recently appointed city manager, is a rarity in more ways than one as the top leaderof the municipal government for one of the most populated (100,000+ residents) cities south of San Antonio. By becoming the city’s top administrator, Ayala is now part ofthe public leadership profession in Texas where women are the minority. Ayala’s appointment as city manager makes her the the second female city manager in the Edinburg community since 2003, when Wendy Smith was selected as city manager.

Photograph Courtesy CITY OF EDINBURG


Myra L. Ayala, Edinburg’s city manager, commands $225,000 annual salary in a top leadership role where Texas women are the rare exception

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Myra L. Ayala, Edinburg’s recently appointed city manager, is a rarity in more ways than one as the top leader of the municipal government for one of the most populated (100,000+ residents) cities south of San Antonio.

By becoming the city’s top administrator, Ayala is now part of a public leadership profession in Texas where women are greatly underrepresented.

A city manager is an appointed municipal official who carries out the administrative and executive duties of a city government.

Ayala’s appointment as city manager makes her the the second female city manager in the Edinburg community since 2003, when Wendy Smith was selected as city manager.

In a related development in deep South Texas, the City of Brownsville on Tuesday, June 8, 2022 voted to appoint Helen Ramírez as Interim City Manager, beginning August 1, 2022. She has served as Deputy City Manager for that city for more than three years, in addition to serving as the Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (GBIC) since February of 2021.

Before Smith’s appointment and through Ayala’s selection, men have been historically chosen by the Edinburg City Council as permanent city manager, including the following leaders since the 1990s:

• Ron Garza;
• Juan G. Guerra, CPA;
• Pilar Rodríguez;
• Richard M. Hinojosa;
• J.J. Rodríguez; and
• John R. Milford.

Current Fire Chief Shawn Snider also served as Interim City Manager during a portion of that period.

“While Texas has had success in having women manage the largest cities in Texas, moving the needle in a more generalized manner has been slow,” according to the Texas Women’s Leadership Institute. “In 2019, 21 percent of the Texas City Management Association (TCMA) membership is female and of the current 241 city managers working in home rule cities in Texas, 30 are female (12 percent).

That is lower than the statistic of 13 percent female local government managers used by ICMAin their task force reports on women in the profession in 2014 and in 1975.”

The Institute is designed to empower and prepare more women for the position of city manager in the future.

In general, home rule cities are defined as having populations of more than 5,000 residents and operate under their own city charters. A home rule city’s charter provides for it to decide for itself how to run the jurisdiction, including the form of government it takes.

Ayala was selected following a comprehensive search that began in early January 2022, where the Edinburg City Council sought the assistance of an executive recruiting firm, Strategic Government Resources. Previously, the City of Edinburg utilized SGR’s services to conduct a nationwide search for its Chief of Police.

An estimated 25 candidates, some local to Rio Grande Valley and some as far as Minnesota, applied for the opportunity to be named the next Edinburg City Manager.

Ayala signed a four-year contract on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, following unanimous approval on Tuesday, April 20, 2022 by the Edinburg City Council, which includes the mayor.

Ayala’s contract pays her a base salary of $225,000 annually, as well as other benefits, such as health insurance, a car allowance, reimbursement for qualified business-related travel in her car 100 miles or more away from Edinburg, costs for qualified business conferences/training/education, and other expenses required in the performance of her duties.

The base salary is the amount of money a salaried employee regularly earns before any additions or deductions are applied to their earnings.

The severance pay package includes protections provided for many top executives in business and government. Should the majority of the five-member Edinburg City Council decide to her employment as city manager, they would pay her the remainder of her $225,000 annual salary, plus other benefits she has earned during her employment.

The Edinburg City Council or Ayala may end the contract with a 30-day written notice.

All details of her contract can be obtained, at no charge, through a Public Information Request to the city government, which is any written, or subsequently memorialized in writing, letter to inspect and/or copy public records.

Highlights of Ayala’s contract include:

• Ayala may be employed forup to eight years, which is the maximum length allowed by the city charter.

A city charter is a basic document that defines the organization, powers, functions and essential procedures of the city government. It is comparable to the Constitution of the United States or a state’s constitution. The charter is, therefore, the most important legal document of any city.

• If the majority of the Edinburg City Council, including the mayor, or if Ayala decides to no longer serve as the city manager, a 30-day written notice must be delivered by either party, and she would be able to receive severance pay plus eligible benefits. Severance pay is an amount paid to an employee upon dismissal or discharge from employment

• Her severance pay package would be equal to the lesser of the value of one year of her salary plus the value of any accrued but unused vacation and sick/personal leave days, computed on an hourly basis determined by dividing her then current annual salary by 2,080 hours; or

The value of her current salary for the remainder of her then term if such term is less than one year, plus the value of any accrued but unused vacation and sick/personal leave days, computed on an hourly basis determined by dividing her then current annual salary by 2,080 hours; and

Under her contract, in the event of termination of the contract, the city shall continue to provide health insurance benefit pursuant for either (a) for a period of up to one year if the city elects to provide severance pay in the form of salary continuation but only until the city manager obtains other full time employment and coverage through a group health insurance plan from her new employee or (b) for six months if paid as a lump sum.

• Her major duties, as stated in her contract, are:

•• Employ, on behalf of the City, all other employees of the city

•• Direct, assign, reassign, and evaluate all of the employees of the city;

•• Organize, reorganize, and arrange the staff of the city;

•• Develop and establish internal regulations, rules, and procedures which the manager deems necessary for the efficient and effective operation of the city;

•• Accept all resignations of employees of the city, except the manager’s resignation which must be accepted by the Mayor and the Council; and

•• All other duties proscribed, delegated, and directed by the Mayor and Edinburg City Council that are consistent with the professional role and responsibility of the city manager position.

In the nationwide search for a permanent Edinburg city manager, Strategic Government Resources provided the following qualifications for applicants, as well as a summary of the city government and community:

Edinburg operates under a Council-Manager form of government.

In general, under a Council-Manager form of government, the city manager prepares a budget for the council’s consideration; recruits, hires, and supervises the government’s staff; serves as the council’s chief adviser; and carries out the council’s policies. The Edinburg City Council includes the Mayor and four City Council members, all of whom are elected at large and serve four-year terms.

The position requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, Urban/ Regional planning, or a related field from an accredited college or university. A Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Business Administration, or a related field and completion of a Texas Certified Public Manager (CPM) and/or ICMA Credentialed Manager programs is highly desired.

Candidates must have at least eight years of professional and managerial supervisory experience involving community and regional relations and similar practices and analyses; or an equivalent combination of training and experience.

The annual starting salary for this position is $200,000, commensurate with education and experience. In addition to a competitive salary, city employees enjoy diverse benefit offerings, including medical, dental, and vision insurance, paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave, disability and life insurance, supplemental insurance options, and deferred compensation. The city participates in the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS), which includes an employee contribution of seven percent and an employer matching ratio of 2:1.

A summary of Ayala’s professional and academic credentials follow:

• Appointed City Manager – City of Edinburg
Edinburg City Council
04/20/22 – Present

• Appointed-Interim City Manager – City of Edinburg
03/2022 – 04/19/22
Edinburg City Council

• City Secretary – City of Edinburg
03/2020 to 03/2022
Ron Garza, City Manager
City of Edinburg

• City Secretary – City of Weslaco
02/2019 to 03/2020
Mike Pérez, City Manager
City of Weslaco

• Director of Business Operations & Marketing
Edinburg Economic Development Corporation
02/2018 to 2/2019
Joey Treviño, Executive Director

• City Secretary – City of Edinburg
05/2003 to 02/2018

• Assistant City Secretary/Records Supervisor
City of Edinburg
06/1999 to 05/2003
Mary Villarreal, City Secretary

Other Relevant Professional Educational Training

• Texas Emergency Management – National Incident Management Systems (All levels)
• Office of the Attorney General – Open Government – Texas Open Meetings Act
• Office of the Attorney General – Open Government – Public Information Act
• Texas Secretary of State & Texas Ethics Commission – Administration of Elections
• Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics – Local Registrar for Birth and Death Certificates
• Texas State Library and Archives Commission – Records Retention and Management

• Bachelor of Business Administration: Management
University of Texas-Pan American-Edinburg
August 2004

All applicants for Edinburg City Manager were asked key questions about their credentials and vision if they were selected for that leadership role.

Those questions, prepared by Strategic Government Resources, and Ayala’s answers follow:

1. How many employees, and what size budgets did you oversee in your last three positions?

Myra L. Ayala:

• City of Edinburg City Manager’s Office as Interim City Manager:

Three Assistant City Manager Assistants and 19 Department Directors;
Department Budget Approximately $1.8 million (General Fund); and
The city has approximately 1,030 full-time employers and a Total Fiscal Year Budget of approximately $165 million.

• City of Edinburg City Secretary Department as City Secretary:

Seven to 10 staff members in the department;
Approximately $1 million (General Fund and Restricted Fund).

• City of Weslaco City Secretary Department as City Secretary

Five to six staff members in the department.
Approximately $439,000 (General Fund).

2. Please detail the specific departments/operations that you have supervised in your last three positions.

Myra L. Ayala:

• Supervised the City of Edinburg – City Manager’s Office: responsible for the efficient management of all city department operations and functions.

• Supervised the City of Edinburg – City Secretary Department: responsible for the City Council meetings, the city’s legislative history, the city’s records management program, vital statistics, city elections, and passport processing.

• Supervised the City of Weslaco – City Secretary Department: responsible for City Council meetings, city’s legislative history, city records management, city elections, and vital statistics.

3. Please explain why you left your last three positions.

Myra L. Ayala:

• City of Edinburg City Manager’s Office – Presently serving as Interim City Manager.
• City of Edinburg City Secretary Department – Was appointed Interim City Manager for the City of Edinburg.
• City of Weslaco City Secretary Department – Was appointed City Secretary for the City of Edinburg.

4. Are there any gaps in excess of two weeks in your employment history including any short-term (approximately one year or less) posts that may have occurred in your career. If so, explain in detail.

Myra L. Ayala:


5. Please explain your experience and skills in economic development and provide notable examples (as applicable) you may have participated in that involved downtown, industrial, commercial, residential, and mix-use development/redevelopment projects in support of local economic development strategies. As part of your answer, please highlight any unique and/or complex challenges that needed to be successfully addressed to allow the project(s) to move forward.

Myra L. Ayala:

As City Secretary, I was exposed to many aspects of the varying functions of the city which allowed me to participate, in some form, with projects that are part of the city’s growth and development. For example, I was previously part of the staff committee for the Downtown Revitalization Master plan that was conducted to identify the downtown area, and provide innovative ideas and activities for future development of the districts proposed in the downtown master plan.

As City Secretary/Elections Administrator, I have conducted various bond elections of propositions that are geared towards infrastructure and/or development projects. The challenge of its success is the projects may not move forwarddue to funding if the proposition is not passed by the voters.

6. Please describe your experience and skills in municipal financial management, budget development, and capital infrastructure planning, maintenance, and financing. Please include any related strategies you have used to address operational financial deficits and/or CIP infrastructure shortfalls.

(CIP stands for capital improvement plan (CIP), which is a community planning and fiscal management tool used to coordinate the location, timing and financing of capital improvements over a multi-year period — usually 4-6 years.)

Myra L. Ayala:

Most recently, as Edinburg City Secretary, I have successfully maintained the budgets for the City of Edinburg City Hall, City Secretary Department, Elections, and the Restricted-Vital Statistics funds. The total budgeted amounts are approximately $1,030,000.

7. Please describe your experience and any programs you may have been involved with to enhance organizational transparency, community outreach, and civic engagement in our current or previous communities.

Myra L. Ayala:

To gain public trust, an organization must adopt practices that are transparent of the ongoings within the organization. As City Secretary, with the City of Edinburg, I created the City Council agenda notices and packets in electronic format and implemented an agenda software program so the agenda notices and packets would be uploaded to the city’s website and easily accessible by the public.

Also, as previously stated, I was part of the staff committee for the Downtown Revitalization Master plan that was adopted by the City Council. The master plan was created due to the city’s desire to improve the various districts located in the downtown area. The process engaged the community, conducted surveys, held community forums, and met with stakeholders to inform them and gather input. The plan provided innovative ideas and activities for the future development of the districts proposed in the downtown master plan.

8. If you are selected for this position, what do you believe will be your greatest, most immediate challenge in your new role and why it presents a challenge?

Myra L. Ayala:

Gaining the employees’ and public’s confidence in the administration and responsible utilization of the city’s operations and resources is always a challenge. The community’s confidence in the city’s public service can be a challenge that may be attributed to a possible past experience that the citizen may have encountered with the city. Implementing structured practices and procedures, amending the code of ordinances to be current, and creating attainable measured employee goals and objectives, while practicing good ethics, is something I continuously strive for to gain the community’s confidence.

9. Please describe your philosophy and approach to building a strong environment and cross-departmental functioning effort to assist the organization deliver superior services and programs. As part of your answer, please include any succession planning initiatives you may have been involved with in your current or previous posts to help ensure the delivery of continued unit of municipal services in anticipation of turnover of key positions.

Myra L. Ayala:

My philosophy and approach to building a strong team is being open-minded of the team member’s ideas and give credit where credit is due. Constant communication with the team is vital to have a clear vision of the city’s mission, direction, goals and objectives. Cross-training will also provide employees the ability to learn and grow, thus, becoming diverse within the organizational structure.

10. How would you assess Edinburg’s organizational structure to ensure efficient municipal service provision? In conjunctionwith your answer, please tell us about what steps and/or processes you have used to track and improve the performance of our organizations, including specific examples involving performance metrics, and lastly, how you communicated organizational efficiencies both internally and with the public.

Myra L. Ayala:

As Interim City Manager, upon meeting with the management team, I immediately implemented an administrative organizational structure that identifies the role of each Assistant City Manager based on their municipal; knowledge as it pertains to the city departments and their functions. It is important to have a clear organizational structure in place that allows the City Manger to properly delegate directives and accurately identify accountability.

11. Please describe your experience and skills in strategic planning and vision. As City Manager, how do you facilitate development of a clear vision for the organization, communicate that vision to all stakeholders, develop outcomes and related tracking of key success measures in support of the organization’s strategic plan?

Myra L. Ayala:

Communication and listening are the key. As Interim City Manager, my clear vision of the city is to be transparent, function efficiently through the implementation of structured policies and procedures, and create obtainable employee goals and objectives that will allow the city to successfully fulfill the needs of the community.

Currently, as part of that vision, I am assessing the practices and internal policies of every city department to enhance what is working efficiently and reevaluating what is not. This process can only be doneby communicating with the city’s leadership, meeting with management team and city employees, and conducting open meetings with stakeholders. Listening, obtaining input/feedback, and having open communications are vital and implementation and success of the city’s vision.

Once the new policies and procedures are put into practice, the city’s vision will be communicated through the use of the city’s website, social media, as well as other forms of media such as publications.

Finally, in order to measure the quality of our services, the city may implement a system that allows the citizens to provide comment/feedback after we have provided city services.

12. Tell us about any experience you may have with technology, the dynamics of social media and citizen engagement that will help lead technological advancements for the betterment of the city.

Myra L. Ayala:

Technology is used for the efficiency of day-to-day city operations. For example, the City Secretary Department uses technology for filing and issuing birth certificates and death certificates, passport processing appointments, processing Public Information Requests, retention of the city’s legislative history, and uploading meeting agenda packets and notices to the city’s website.

The city’s website and social media are valuable tools that are utilized for transparency, to inform the public, and/or allow a citizen to report a concern or issues to the city, so city staff, upon learning of the issues, can address it expeditiously to better serve the citizens of the community.

13. What are the three values that are most important to you as a leader and a colleague – that is, the consistent behaviors that everyone can rely on from you? Have you lived those values in your career? Why are they important to you for driving success?

Myra L. Ayala:

Although there are many core values I follow being a public servant, the following are three of the most important to me asa a leader/colleague:

Ethical – While serving the community as a public servant, one must be held accountable for the proper operation of the city’s services, as well as beingfiscally responsible of properly maintaining, expensing, and utilizing the taxpayers’ money

As Interim City Manager, you are held at a high level of accountability. It is important to be transparent and properly utilize the taxpayers’ money to efficiently and effectively provide the citizens of the community the highest level of quality city services.

As City Secretary, I also served as the city’s Elections Administrator, and it is crucial to be ethical in the entire election process. The validity of the election, when conducting a municipal election, relies on complying with the many federal, state and local election laws, and city charter and codes of ordinances, so remaining ethical is imperative during this process.

Respectful – As a public servant, it is extremely important to treat everyone with respect regardless of any factors involved in a situation. As Interim City Manager it is important to be mindful of all the varying situations and the people involved when addressing a situation or concern. As previously stated, as City Secretary, I also served as the city’s Elections Administrator and it is very important, not only to be ethical, but treat everyone equal, impartial, with the utmost respect, and remain neutral during the election process.

Communication/Listen – Listening to the community’s concerns and needs is a very essential part of being a public servant. They are the city’s eyes and ears that bring issues or concerns to the light. As city employees we need to address those issues and take immediate proper action. It is also important to listen to the employees and allow them to share their thoughts, ideas, opinions and concerns by having an open-door policy approach.

14. If you were recruiting someone to join your team, what would you say to them about your leadership approach and philosophy?

Myra L. Ayala:

My leadership approach has always been being Servant Leader. My philosophy on the importance of being a servant leader is to lead by example. It is important to cultivate trust within the city and its citizens through respect and open communication. I continuously strive to provide the employees the resources and the tools to successfully execute the directives and/or vision of the city leadership so that we, as a city, in turn, will provide the citizens the highest level of services they deserve.

It is also important for me to create a working environment that encourages the employees to work together as a team, share their thoughts and opinions, express to them they are heard and appreciated, give credit where credit is due but also advise them that we are all also accountable.

15. Tell us about any experience you may have in managing high growth communities, the resulting impacts such growth may have had on your organization(s), and any lessons learned regarding safeguarding the community’s “desired state” as growth was occurring?

Myra L. Ayala:

Based on the 2020 Census, the City of Edinburg is ranked the 6th fastest-growing large city in Texas and the 12th fastest-growing city in the nation. As Interim City Manager I am exposed to the impact growth has on the organization.

Due to the city’s spurt in residential and commercial development, there is an impactful increase in the need of infrastructure and city services. I have learned that by combining our efforts with local, state and federal agencies to put the much needed infrastructure in place allows all parties to maximize their funding resources. Working together to have the infrastructure in place will result in the continued growth of residential and commercial development, thus creating a positive economic impact.

16. Please describe your desired compensation range and related benefit package if you are ultimately selected as the final candidate for this position. If you were selected and offered an acceptable compensation package, what concerns or hesitations do you have that would need to be resolved before you would be ready to accept the position as Edinburg’s City Manager?

Myra L. Ayala:

Compensation is negotiable but no less than the current amount paid; all employee offered benefits will be paid by the city; receive longevity pay of the accumulated total number of service years; receive full compensation of the total number of vacation and sick leave hours regardless of if removed or depart from position; and receive no less than the current allotted car allowance.

No concerns or hesitations.

17. When we conduct a comprehensive reference check and background investigation including media searches, what will we find that may warrant explanation or that could be of concern to the City of Edinburg? Please provide whatever explanation you think is appropriate to help us understand what we will find.

Myra L. Ayala:


18. Are you currently involved in any other employment searches and if so, what is your status and associated timetables involved in those searches?

Myra L. Ayala:


No 19. What are the three most important questions you have for the Edinburg City Council?

Myra L. Ayala:

• Where do you see the city in the next five to ten years?
• What is most important to you as the city’s leaders?
• What is your expectation of the City Manager’s position?

Summary of City of Edinburg

In advertising for a new city manager, Strategic Government Resources described the city of Edinburg as follows for candidates:

At the northernmost point of the Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg is the gateway to South Texas and the county seat of Hidalgo County. Edinburg’s proximity to the border offers opportunities for recreation, travel, and business in both Texas and Mexico. The community is safe, family-friendly, educated, and passionate. The Rio Grande Valley offers easy access to quality schools and excellent healthcare options providing Edinburg’s 100,000+ residents a unique lifestyle and the opportunity to try new things, be good neighbors, and take pride in their community.

Edinburg has an exceptional entertainment, arts, and recreation scene. Community and special events highlight the region’s vibrant culture. Top-tier entertainment acts perform at the largest indoor venue in South Texas, the Bert Ogden Arena, and the H-E-B Park sports facility hosts live United Soccer League games as well as live performances.

Outdoor lovers are drawn to Edinburg’s many parks, trails, and the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands & World Birding Center. The Museum of South Texas History, located in downtown Edinburg, has been preserving rich regional history for more than 50 years and takes visitors back in time with its permanent and traveling exhibits.

Edinburg also offers a wide variety of restaurants, with many exciting local favorites that make Edinburg menus memorable.

Businesses looking to expand find Edinburg ideal. Its location provides access to other major metros, business hubs, and tourist destinations like San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Monterrey, South Padre Island, and beyond, and the city’s proximity to the border opens up additional markets and consumer areas.

Medical facilities include DHR Health, Edinburg Regional Medical Center, Valley Care Clinics, Family Medical Center, South Texas Health System Clinics, and Cornerstone Regional Hospital.


For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (

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