Schmid, who died over the weekend at 81, was tapped to become city manager at the age of 23. Schmid had no real-world experience, but he had written a thesis on how to incorporate a small city like Milpitas, and so the city council offered him the job. The pay, some $350 per month, went much further in 1954 than it would now, but even then Schmid’s talents were a bargain.
It is safe to say that Milpitas would not be a city today if it weren’t for the efforts of Schmid. He led a charge to defend the integrity of Milpitas’ borders, as San Jose tried to annex the city. But after a heated, public debate with San Jose’s city manager in front of the much of the city, residents voted 4-1 to reject the annexation offer.
From the Milpitas Post:
In recent decades, the full-time head of the city’s administration has tended to have a low profile. Partially this is to wisely defer to some strong-minded city councils and mayors.
A successful city manager essentially must be multi-talented in hiring key people for highly specialized tasks, juggling the ever-more challenging budget issues posed by the state and by outside economic forces, and tend to the care and feeding of a five-member band of politicians who often are scrambling for re-election or shimmying up the political ladder.
The true success of local political leaders is making a wise choice of manager. Milpitas’ fledgling city council back in 1954 had little to go on when it came time to choose. There were some retired managers of other cities available and one young man who had done a master’s thesis on how to incorporate a small city like Milpitas. He had zero experience of working for government, but then neither did any of the council members.
Read the full article here.