San Antonio has what is called a ‘Council-Manager’ form of government. But when Sheryl Sculley arrived in San Antonio in November of 2005, she quickly realized that there are ten of them and only one of her, enlarging the potential influence of the manager's job. In the past eight and a half years, through a combination of her determination, her ferocious energy, a little intimidation here and there, and always being the smartest person in the room, the Indiana native has transformed the once-bureaucratic post of city manager, re-inventing the job and with it the idea of what city government should be, and has clearly emerged as the most influential and most powerful person in San Antonio today.
Sculley, who’s theme is ‘working together with integrity,’ has brought the restless energy of the Marathon runner that she is to significantly reduce the city’s civilian work force while boosting the ranks of police and firefighters. San Antonio has repeatedly been listed by national publications as a model for government efficiency and responsibility, and the city’s Triple-A bond rating, which means more tax money for projects and less for debt service, is evidence of her effective results-oriented management style. Supported by a relatively weak, easily-led council and with a magnificent staff, almost all of whom she recruited and appointed herself, the clear eyed manager has in many ways guided policy rather than simply implementing it. And by taking on the powerful Police and Fire Associations over health care benefits will put that energy to the test, with her legacy at stake, Sculley sees changes like these as critical to the emergence of the modern American city as it takes on the realities of the 21st century economy.