If our accomplishments are to be judged fairly, they must be judged in proper context. Yet even this fails to tell the entire story. Certainly, retiring City Manager Dale Fisseler must be gauged by more than the time he spent leading our city — four years — even when placed alongside the 33 years that his predecessor (and supporter) Larry Groth spent in various capacities at City Hall.
Fisseler’s administration commanded fewer headlines over a shorter period of time but he has counted every bit as much for the long term. As managers and department heads slowly retired from the scene, Fisseler played a key role in ensuring a talented, diverse leadership team took their place — leadership that looks more like Waco today. Many have proven gifted in terms of data-driven results — and, to his credit, Fisseler has selflessly allowed them to shine.
What’s more, Fisseler brought a uniquely valuable perspective when he began his tenure as deputy city manager in 2011. While Fisseler is a Waco native who graduated from Richfield High School, he spent much of his career in city administration in Dallas and Fort Worth, culminating as Fort Worth’s city manager. Our community has benefitted from this as well. His input and insights have highlighted the pitfalls that cities risk during periods of growth, yet he’s mindful of Waco’s character, history and challenges in ways a newcomer doesn’t immediately grasp.
As he leaves City Hall, Dale Fisseler, 58, leaves behind significant strides in key infrastructure work and exciting forays in downtown development, including along our riverfront. He says he’s particularly proud of an improved city bond rating and a strong team of assistant city managers and department heads. And, to cap it all, he has approached city business with an open mind and hearty sense of humor, often taking the edge off tense issues that can all too readily turn confrontational. This optimism amid the sometimes mundane business of steering a city bridges us to future greatness with a strong focus on quality of life.