The city commission voted unanimously to approve the city manager employment agreement with Nick Hernandez at its meeting Monday night.

Hernandez’s employment with the city will take effect June 1, 2020, when long-time City Manager Cherise Tieben plans to retire after 30 years of service to the city.

Like Tieben, Hernandez is a Ford County native. He is the current manager of Arkansas City, a position he has held for eight and a half years.

Prior to that, he served as manager of Osage City for three years.

Tieben met Spearville-born Hernandez 14 years ago at a city manager’s conference. The Marine has a Masters of Public Administration from Wichita State University.

He said he is excited about the new challenge and has confidence in Dodge City, citing this city’s industrial growth and STAR bonds.

“It’s hard for rural communities to say that (they’re growing) but that’s not the case for Dodge.”

He cited the similarities between Dodge City and Ark City as beef-processing towns, “so I understand the problems that come with a packing-house town.”

Assistant City Manager Ernestor De La Rosa reported to the commission that of the 11 people who applied for the city manager position during the August to October application period, only five were qualified candidates.

Commissioners thanked De La Rosa for his assistance in hiring Hernandez.

Hernandez’s family, including his father Rick and mother Diane, joined him for the meeting. He recalled fond childhood memories of swimming in the old Dodge City pool, playing baseball and annual field trips to the Shrine Circus.

“Thank you for putting your faith in me,” Hernandez told the commission. “It’s special to be back in Ford County. My family and I excited for the new challenge.”