Mansfield names new assistant city manager, deputy city manager

January 2, 2023
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Photo courtesy of Vanessa Ramirez

By Amanda Rogers

Mansfield Record

Mansfield’s City Hall has a new face for 2023, and a familiar face in a new position.

Vanessa Ramirez has been hired as the city’s new assistant city manager. The Houston native started work Dec. 27, after working in Odessa for seven years, most recently as the city’s deputy director of public works and utilities.

Troy Lestina, the city’s chief financial officer, also has a new title: deputy city manager. Lestina steps into the role previously held by Shelly Lanners, who retired Dec. 15 after 22 years with the city of Mansfield. Lestina had worked as Mansfield’s assistant finance director under Peter Phyllis for a dozen years before leaving to become the CFO in Cleburne.

“When Peter retired, I begged and pleaded for Troy to come back,” said City Manager Joe Smolinski. “He was a natural fit to succeed Shelly.”

Lestina returned as Mansfield’s CFO in December 2020.

For Ramirez, Mansfield is a new ballgame, but Smolinski said she will definitely fit in on the team.

“Vanessa gave a presentation to the selection committee about what True NORTH meant to her,” Smolinski said. “We had 70 applicants and Vanessa is the one we thought would be the best fit for Mansfield. We took several months to gather applications. The selection process began in July.”

True NORTH represents the guiding principles for the city of Mansfield, an acronym for Noteworthy Essentials, Organizational Excellence, Remarkable Experiences, Together As One and Healthy Economy.

Those principles mirror her values and attracted her to Mansfield, Ramirez said.

“I think that it was really the core values that city operates under that spoke to the core values that I operate under,” she said. “The city places a focus on providing citizens with city services, remarkable experiences, parks where we can enjoy one another’s company.”

North Texas’ terrain, more like her hometown than Odessa, also drew her to the position, Ramirez said.

“Aside from the culture, it was that I was used to the green and the water,” she said. “That really did entice me. My parents still live in Houston. They are a lot closer. Family is very important to me.  It’s an eight-hour drive from Odessa to Houston, now about it’s about three to four hours.”

She is also looking forward to enjoying the city’s amenities.

“I really think that I’m looking forward to their parks, I really enjoy running outdoors,” Ramirez said. “Odessa did not have a lot of outdoor parks for long-distance running.

“I’m just excited to be more involved in the community,” she said. “I think I waited a little longer to get involved in Odessa. Moving here, I made the commitment that I would put myself out there and see how I can help Mansfield be a place where people want to stay long term.”

As an attorney, Ramirez will provide a unique and valuable perspective to the city staff, Smolinski said. The 37-year-old was hired at the City of Odessa’s city attorney’s office after getting her degree at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston. Her undergraduate degree is from Sam Houston State University. She passed the bar after being hired in Odessa.

Smolinski explained that Ramirez will provide support for operations, such as public works, community services, the library, museum, city secretary, and director of public records and transparency. Assistant City Manager Matt Jones provides support for development, such as economic development, planning, building services and engineering. Lestina will provide support for community engagement, communications and outreach, regulatory compliance, finance, human resources and IT, while Smolinski will support police and fire.

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Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.

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