New Leadership in the city of Belen
BELEN—Weeks into his new job as Belen’s city manager, Andrew DiCamillo says he’s excited for the future of the Hub City.
DiCamillo is still learning the ropes, talking with department directors, educating himself with policies and procedures and trying to move the city forward.
The city’s new manager started his public service career as the mayor’s liaison in the city of Albuquerque under Marty Chavez and Jim Baca, working on crime-related issues as well as trying to tie up inefficiencies.
He left the big city and came to work for Valencia County as its code enforcement director. Within his year of employment, DiCamillo said he’s proud of four items he was part of — a CBDG grant awarded to the county, the voter-approved mill levy for a hospital, an ordinance creating the fire administration and an expansion of the animal shelter.
In 2007, he was hired as the city of Belen’s planning and zoning director. He was terminated from his position in 2012, saying he still doesn’t know the reason why.
Nevertheless, DiCamillo said he learned a lot during his time with the city of Belen, and is happy to be back.
“I’d like to say I worked with one of the best city manager’s around, Sally Garley,” DiCamillo said. “For two years, it was really great being head of the planning and zoning department. I’d like to think I was like a sponge, trying to absorb as much as I could. As fascinated as I was, I was kind of fearful of just wanting to be able to do everything I could.”
During his first stint with the city, DiCamillo was proud to be part of several projects, including the now gone solar dishes in city hall’s parking lot and the pedestrian bridge over the railroad overpass on Reinken.
DiCamillo also remembers the time when the city’s finances were in crisis and administrators had to make some tough decisions, including laying off dozens of employees while others’ work hours were slashed to 32 hours a week.
“The ones of us who were left, we still had to go down to 32-hour work weeks, and we even had to take turns cleaning the office,” he said. “One of our saving graces was I got to work in the finance department, and we went to Santa Fe to refinance our debt.”
DiCamillo said because of his experience with the city’s financial crisis, he wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“My No. 1 goal is to lead the city where we don’t experience what we went through before,” DiCamillo said. “That’s probably an unreachable goal, only because when the economy drops, it affects everyone.”
Describing himself as a “fiscal hawk,” DiCamillo says it’s nice to see the city has a budget in which projects can be completed, buy equipment, maintain day-to-day operations and have somewhat of a financial cushion, but he’s always concerned when and if a financial crisis happens again.
After being forced to leave his employment with the city, DiCamillo said it was hard to find another job, forcing him to essentially take a six-year hiatus from working in the public sector.
“I was an Eagle Scout and I enjoyed backpacking and the mountains a lot,” he said. “I spent a lot of time outdoors. I tend to get consumed in what I do, so that was a good time to just reflect and get away.”
In 2018, DiCamillo found himself living in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. He found a home in Aztec, and was once again drawn to government work.
“I applied and got a position as a building inspector … so I left that job to come here,” DiCamillo said. “I was once again fascinated with the city. I grew up in Albuquerque, but I guess I fall in love with small towns.”
Being asked to return to the city by Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova felt good, but for DiCamillo, it was the recognition that he did good for the city.
“That, to me, was very uplifting,” he said.
As for the future of Belen, DiCamillo wants the city to continue to be the “event center” of Valencia County, and will help in any way he can to grow the city economically. He also wants to be able to make the city look better, including at the various parks.
While still living in Aztec, DiCamillo said he’s staying at Corazon RV park while actively looking for a place to live in Belen.