Deputy City Manager Wiley Stem III will serve as Waco’s next city manager after a 6-0 Waco City Council vote Tuesday.

Stem, who has worked for the city 41 of his 65 years, will officially take the role in March, when City Manager Dale Fisseler plans to retire.

Mayor Kyle Deaver had asked Stem to take the position without a search after getting the consensus of the rest of the council.

“A lot of people have told me they’re happy with this decision,” Deaver said. “It couldn’t be easier for us after seeing the hard work you’ve done in so many departments of the city. It gives the city great continuity, and we’re proud of you being willing to do this.”

Other council members agreed that Stem’s varied background in overseeing major utility projects and negotiating agreements will help carry on the city’s momentum.

“I’m so excited about this and I have such confidence in your ability to carry on the legacy of Dale,” said Councilman Dillon Meek, who seconded Councilman John Kinnaird’s motion.

“I didn’t know that was part of the deal,” Stem said to laughter.

“I appreciate Dale’s recommendation and the confidence you have placed in me. I look forward to working with all of you.”

Stem, whose background is in utilities and public works, was promoted to assistant city manager in 1999 and became deputy city manager in 2015. He was instrumental in negotiations to raise Lake Waco and clean up the polluted North Bosque River and turn around a troubled animal shelter. He said the shelter project was one of the most rewarding things he’s done, and he did his citizen’s duty in adopting six dogs from there.

Stem said he doesn’t know how long he’ll serve before retirement. He said his original plan was to give the city 30 years and retire at age 53.

“I think I’ve got a little more to give and I want to give it,” he said.

Stem, who grew up here as son of a former Waco city attorney, said he is excited about the resurgence of downtown Waco.

“There’s so much going on downtown with the opportunities for the riverfront, the hotels and the (proposed Civic Center) business center. … I’ve seen downtown in its heyday, I’ve seen it decline and now I’m seeing it come back,” Stem said. “I think we have a great team to help make it happen.”

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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