November 23, 2004 > Initial Impressions from New Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz
Initial Impressions from New Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz
An announcement on September 1, 2004 officially announced that Fremont's City Council unanimously selected Fred Diaz, City Manager of Tracy, CA as the seventh city manager of Fremont. The appointment of Mr. Diaz follows the retirement of Jan Perkins in July 2004 who served for more than 10 years with the city. Mr. Diaz has over 20 years of experience in municipal government including 10 years with Tracy and previous positions with the City of Indio, CA, the City of Azusa, CA and the City of Pico Rivera, CA.
Diaz officially began his role as Fremont City Manager on October 11, 2004 although prior weeks were spent in transition between Tracy and Fremont. TCV asked Fred for his impressions after his first full month of service with the City of Fremont.
TCV: Officially, you have been on the job as Fremont's City Manager for a little over a month. What are your first impressions?
Diaz: Fremont has lived up to everything I wanted it to be. The projects are very interesting, big and complex, and represent a challenge. I am favorably impressed with the staff at all levels - in particular the executive managers and the middle manager core. These are highly intelligent, dedicated and passionate people. As City Manager this is like orchestrating one of the best symphonies in the area. This is a powerful resource to throw at these projects.
TCV: How does this structure compare with your previous position?
Diaz: There are more similarities than differences; however, the size of Fremont alone presents a geographic challenge. One of the differences is the historic districts of Fremont. This is a good difference. It is part of the diversity of the area. The historic districts identity themselves with pride and passion. This is recognized by people at city hall and the council. I think there is a need for the city to increase its outreach to the districts. We will be looking to enhance our outreach and create a formal method of communicating with the districts to make sure their concerns are heard.
TCV: We also have a very diverse ethnic mix in Fremont.
Diaz: This all falls under the broad umbrella of "outreach." This is one of the most important goals that any city government. Every city can always do more, but Fremont does a very good job - much better than most cities. However, it keeps a city on its toes to determine how to communicate with people who come from different countries and backgrounds speaking different languages. We have to make sure we do not leave any segment of the population behind.
TCV: Will you be an "active" manager, highly visible to the public?
Diaz: I need to be out in the public. It's a big part of the job and a responsibility of the staff. Staff, including myself, should be involved with and attend many of the public events taking place in the city. The only complaint I have is that in my first weeks in Fremont, I have been nailed down to my desk too much but that is a necessary part of my transition. It will probably be another month or two before I can really get out into the community. It is critical that I get caught up on all the issues - this is a very busy place; I am learning a new definition of the word, "busy!"
By the way, I moved to Niles last week! My family has been unpacking ever since. Just as I have been getting my feet on the ground at work, my wife and daughter have now made the move here as well.
TCV: With changes of the city council, will there also be a new dynamic in Fremont?
Diaz: This is a new chemical mix. Having Bob [Wasserman] go from councilmember to mayor is a big change. One and eventually two new councilmembers is a big change as well. A manager is very sensitive to this. The change of just one councilmember can make a big difference. We are looking forward to a teambuilding and goal setting session in February. Since everything is a change for me right now, the new council is simply part of my assimilation.
The essential part of my job to keep the council informed and implement their direction has been done on the run but as I get up to speed, coincidentally, I will be working with the new council. Right now I feel "encapsulated" within the parameters of city hall, but there will come a time - a welcome time - when I can shed the shackles of being new and get out into the community where I can be much more effective. I am looking forward to that time.
TCV: What is your impression of the area?
The community is beautiful. It is nice to be here in this part of California at this time of year. Autumn is gorgeous and adds to the overall impression I had of the area. I am a runner and being able to run along Alameda Creek past the ponds and Quarry Lakes is a wonderful experience. Just driving around seeing the hills and the fall colors is pretty neat for a guy from Tracy.