Bridgeport City Administrator Brandon Emmons’ retirement announcement may have come as a surprise to those members of the audience who remained, but for Emmons, the career move is right on schedule.
“When I was applying for this job four-and-a-half years ago, the council asked the traditional ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ question,” Emmons said Thursday. “My answer was, ‘I see myself retiring from the city of Bridgeport.’ When I got into municipal government 20 years ago, one of the goals I had for myself was to get to a point in my career where I could step aside and do other things.”
The 44-year-old Emmons announced his retirement following an hour-long closed session at the end of a city council meeting Tuesday night. He said he would take this opportunity to explore some non-profit interests and do consulting work in Waco. Money was also a factor, he said Thursday.
“November is my deadline for full retirement benefits, so the timing was just right for me to step aside and let the new administration take over and try some new challenges.”
One of those challenges involves charity work in Namibia, Africa – a place Emmons visits frequently.
“I really like foreign travel, and normally whenever I go to Africa it’s a week of hunting and a week of working in a village community,” Emmons said. “There’s this orphanage in Outjo I want to spend more time at, use my skills as a city administrator to help them with whatever they need.”
Then, he said, he’d like to come back and work as a consultant.
“I’d like to work with businesses that want to thrive down in Waco,” he said. “They’re all intertwined with governmental services, so they’re looking for someone who has ties with municipal government who can help them.”
Emmons, who began his tenure as Bridgeport’s city administrator in April 2010, said he is proud of what the city has accomplished in the last five years. He would love to stick around to see the new road improvement project completed – but “if you’re using an ongoing project that you’re working on as a reason not to retire, then you’re not going to get to that list. There’s always going to be another project.”
He is most proud of four years of balanced budgets, qualified audits and improved bond ratings from Standard and Poor’s. Standardizing utility billing rates is a huge accomplishment as well.
“It used to be that we would have a lot of human error with counting [water and electric] meters, because people would physically have to drive to every meter in the city and input the numbers manually,” he said. “That resulted in people getting billed for 30 days while their neighbors got billed for 28 days, and it wasn’t standardized at all.”
The city is also on track to receive the state’s “Superior Drinking Water” designation this year.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in the time I’ve been here, and I’m extremely proud of all of it, but I hope that by the time they find my replacement, it will be going so smoothly that they’ll be saying ‘Brandon who?'” Emmons said.
The council will meet behind closed doors Tuesday, starting the process to find Emmons’ successor. That could take longer than the three months’ notice Emmons gave.
“I hope they find someone by December, but realistically, it’ll probably be six to eight months before they find anyone,” Emmons said.
A statement released Thursday expressed the city’s gratitude to Emmons for the last four years of service.
“The city of Bridgeport will be forever grateful to Emmons for his years of leadership and dedication, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” the statement said.
For his part, Emmons said he is both nervous and excited to begin this next stage of life.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to retire at a young age and pursue some things I’m passionate about, but I’m nervous and excited at the same time. We’ll see what happens.”