RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Rio Rancho’s new city manager has an eye on the future and plans for collaboration to benefit the whole region.
David Campbell started work with the city Monday.
“I have seen city management as my calling, if you will, for a number of years,” he said during an interview Wednesday.
His experience in local government began in 1981 in Albuquerque, where he served as assistant to the mayor while earning his master’s in public administration from the University of New Mexico. Campbell found the work fascinating.
“You really get to touch the community in ways that are important,” he said.
In following years, he worked as an attorney focusing on governmental issues such as land use and approvals, fulfilled a dream of serving as a U.S. diplomat in the foreign service and played several roles in Albuquerque city government.
Campbell said he was interested in Rio Rancho because it’s growing and “having very interesting and important issues of, yes, growth, but also governance and economic development, all of which I consider strong suits in my career.”
Matching his priorities to the city’s, he said he wants to help improve the local economy by encouraging companies to locate in the City of Vision, reducing impediments to business and improving infrastructure, including roads and utilities. He’s also concerned about increasing Rio Rancho’s gross receipts tax revenue by encouraging people to shop in town.
“The ability of the city government to serve is in proportion to the economy,” he said.
Completing Paseo del Volcan from Interstate-40 to Unser Boulevard is high on his list.
“I think it is a critically important access point for our city and the economy,” Campbell said.
He believes a completed PdV would benefit residents of Sandoval and Bernalillo counties. He plans to use his experience with land use and intergovernmental relationships to push the project forward.
Also, Campbell believes Rio Rancho may be able to capitalize on the Netflix and NBC Universal film production facilities in Albuquerque by offering necessary post-production services here.
Campbell said Albuquerque’s gain doesn’t have to be Rio Rancho’s loss, and vice versa. The two cities and the other communities the region can work together on projects that benefit them all.
“We are the City of Vision, which means we’re looking to the future,” he said.
Rio Rancho will need information infrastructure such as broadband to prosper in the future, he continued. Technology has a role in life going forward, from emergency response to managing traffic congestion, and businesses want constant connectivity in places they locate, Campbell said.
Based on what he’s learned at conferences, he believes cities need to be ready for autonomous cars, too.
“We are a lot closer to that vision than we think we are,” Campbell said.
To get digital infrastructure, he said, the city can install broadband access and digital sensors in its facilities and roads, and require such technology to be included in new development, he said.
Building infrastructure requires resources, which means the economy needs to be stronger, he said. But, strengthening the economy requires resources in the first place.
“You have to break into that cycle some place,” Campbell said.
The truism is that once a community has the rooftops, jobs will arrive. He said Rio Rancho has the rooftops, so it needs to seek jobs.
“This is a very viable market for jobs, retail markets, restaurants, you name it,” he said.