Maryann Ustick: Gallup City Manager
By Fowler Roberts
Q. What got you interested in the City Manager position in Gallup?
A. I have family in the West and I worked in Las Cruces and fell in love with New Mexico. I was working in Florida and was just interested in getting back to New Mexico. I’ve been to Gallup many times and have been really charmed by it, so I was just excited for the opportunity to come back.
Q. You are midway through your first day. What do you enjoy about Gallup so far?
A. You know, I’ve been here actually a little over a week. Gallup has a lot of gems you don’t discover when you are driving through, so it’s exciting to be able have the time now to experience the authentic Gallup – because it has a lot to offer.
Q. What do you anticipate the biggest challenge of the job will be?
A. There’re probably two, if I’m allowed two. One is just trying to focus on the consensus priorities for the city and move ahead on the top priorities, because you can’t do everything at once. A second is financial, because of the “hold harmless” issue that’s a huge issue for our city because we have a very high tax rate compared to other cities and we also have a huge challenge in terms of the needs of our citizens. That’s going to be a major challenge.
Q. Going into the job, what is your number one priority?
A. I would say economic development. Everybody says economic development, but I mean economic development in the broadest sense of the word – kind of sustainable economic development. We need to focus on economic development holistically. So we will need to look at community revitalization, we need to look at the attractiveness of the community and putting out a good image. We have a lot of assets that can bring in economic development, but we also have to look at the quality of life because without quality of life you are not going to sustain economic development.
Q. Ultimately, what do you see as the highest and best potential for this area?
A. I am still getting to know the area. I think everyone is going to say tourism, because of our location, because of our charming historic downtown and the fact that just everything that you buy in Santa Fe is made in Gallup, so it has authenticity. Tourism brings people here and we need to build on that, but in terms of sustaining good high quality jobs, we need to bring people here and then have them want to stay here and create jobs – kind of a combination of both.
Q. What do you enjoy doing most in your off time?
A. In my line of business, I don’t have much off time. But I enjoy the outdoors, so did I come to the right place? I love hiking; I just love anything outdoors and I love spending time with my family and grandkids and my children.
Q. What is your favorite music?
A. Because of my age, it has to be rock ’n’ roll. I love the Beatles because I grew up with them, but I will tell you there’s a part of me that loves operettas. I love Broadway musicals and Broadway shows. I could listen to them forever, so it’s both.
Q. If you could trade places with one other person, who would it be and why?
A. So many folks have been an inspiration to me. This is a tough question. Being a student of American history, there’s a couple of names that come to mind, but if I have to pick one, I pick Jane Addams. My career focus and background have been community development and revitalization. I really used her model for the Hull House when I worked in the city of Phoenix in the 1990s. She is just an inspiration that we continue to emulate.