At the January Executive Board meeting, the gavel was passed from 2017 E-Board President Gerard Batista, to the new President Xavier Mendez, who will serve as the Maintenance Superintendents Association’s leader for 2018. Xavier has moved through all the chairs of the Executive Committee over the past three years, serving as the Vice-President last year.
I began my career in the public sector on October 26, 1992, with the City of Montclair. I started as a maintenance worker with no experience in public works or any other local agency. I immediately enrolled in public works courses at Citrus College in Glendora, California and water courses at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California. Most of the classes I took were sponsored by an organization called the Maintenance Superintendents Association (MSA), which I started to hear more about from my two supervisors, Public Works Superintendent Mario Orioli and Assistant Public Works Superintendent Jim Lampman. This is when I began to see that the MSA was focused on training and education in the public works field.
During my first two years with the City of Montclair, I continued to work for my previous employer, Los Angeles Harley Davidson, as a part-time Parts and Services Manager, while I gained experience in all divisions of public works, including parks, trees, streets, and sewers. I enjoyed the Streets and Sewers Divisions the best and felt I had the most to offer these two divisions.
After completing multiple courses at Citrus College and Mount San Antonio College and receiving certifications and licenses in Water Distribution 2, Water Treatment 2, and a Qualified Applicators Certificate for pesticide spraying for the State of California, I was promoted to Leadworker over the Sewer Division on February 6, 1995, when the position became available.
I continued to take classes and courses through Citrus College and through the California Water Environmental Association (CWEA). I also received five more certifications for Cross Connection Specialist and Backflow Tester, both through the American Water Works Association (AWWA); Collection System Maintenance and Environmental Compliance Inspector certifications through CWEA; and Certified Backflow tester for San Bernardino County.
During my first few months as Leadworker over the Sewer Division, I saw the need to fill the vacant Environmental Specialist position in the Engineering Division. The Environmental Specialist was needed to do facility pre-treatment inspections, sewer sampling, Ph monitoring, sewer flow monitoring, traffic counting, and to attend NPDES stormwater compliance meetings with the County of San Bernardino. I had already gotten the Sewer Division running very well with hydro jetting and sewer mainline televising, so I was afforded the time to concentrate on the environmental side. Due to my certifications, knowledge, and experience, the City Manager gave me the opportunity to fill in while the City looked for engineering personnel to fill the vacant Environmental Manager position.
In October 1995, the City Manager gave me a two-step pay increase, at the suggestion of Mario Orioli, due to my ability to run two different divisions under Public Works, which in the past took multiple employees. I continued to work with both divisions, keeping the City in compliance with State and Federal storm water and environmental regulations.
Over the next few years, my efforts and achievements continued to be recognized by the City Manager, department heads, and the Public Works Superintendent. On June 29, 1999, I was reclassified to an Environmental Control Specialist. This was a way of saying thank you for my hard work and efforts and was a milestone for the Public Works Department, which would continue to reap the benefits for years to come.
In December 1999, I began to fill in as acting Assistant Public Works Superintendent, when needed or when other supervisors were off work. I continued to maintain all my certifications and licenses and take other courses related to supervision and management. During this time, I gained more knowledge in public works operations and engineering. This was also the beginning of my direct involvement with MSA. I had already received a few MSA scholarships over the previous few years and had started to attend meetings when they were close to the City and I had the time to attend.
In July 2002, I was promoted to Assistant Public Works Superintendent after testing and interviewing with the Public Works Superintendent. I continued as the Assistant Public Works Superintendent for the next 7 years while being mentored by Mario Orioli and other MSA board members through the years. In 2005, I took on more responsibility when the Equipment Maintenance Supervisor retired and his position was not filled. I was given additional duties because of the experience I gained with services and parts while working for Los Angeles Harley Davidson. I was very confident that I could handle the additional duties and did so for many years. In 2009, Mario Orioli was given the opportunity to retire early and he took advantage of the great chance he was afforded. Mario was a great leader and mentor for me and I appreciate everything he did for me, more than he knows. He was a good friend, leader, mentor, father, and son, and I learned so much from. He pushed me to push myself and to be the best I could while still living a good life and not forgetting to enjoy family, friends and free time.
Now, onto my MSA path and history; as I mentioned previously, I began attending MSA meetings in the late 1990s. I really enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships I developed throughout the years. I was asked to be a Director of the Board for the Inland Empire/Desert Chapter for fiscal year 2000-01 and continued as a Director for fiscal years 2001-02 and 2002-03. I then was asked to fill the vacant Treasurer spot on the Chapter Board for 2003-04 and 2004-05, then Secretary for 2005-06 and 2006-07, Vice President for 2007-08 and 2008-09, and President for 2009-10 and 2010-11. In 2013, I was asked to fill a vacant Director position on the MSA E-Board and represent the Inland Empire/Desert Chapter. I continued as a director through the end of 2014 and began to go through the chairs as Treasurer in 2015, Secretary in 2016, Vice President in 2017, and I will now be the President for 2018. This experience has been most memorable and has provided me so many new opportunities while networking and meeting new people in the public works field.
As President for 2018, I hope to carry on the successes that the previous presidents have shown me over the years. I understand each president is different and brings their own ideas and dreams to fulfill during their reign as president and I too hope for an amazing year. I want to visit and attend chapter meetings, hoping to visit every chapter during the year. As President, I also want to continue to push the MSA Public Works Specialist Certification Program and show this support as I visit each chapter. I want to work on getting the Chapter Boundaries map updated and sent out to all chapters and push for greater attendance to chapter conferences. I also want to work on vendor appreciation and make sure that all chapters show their vendors support by making purchases from vendor members whenever possible.
The support system and friendships I have made over the past years are invaluable and the memories I have made will be with me forever. The MSA will continue to develop great leaders, mentors, and friends. I look forward to this year of hope and new beginnings.