Texas Municipal League is asking Linden city manager Lee Elliott to serve on its Small Cities Advisory Council, a service that will brainstorm the creating of strong cities through effective leadership.
For his part, Elliott said he is happy to represent Northeast Texas -- especially its small cities.
"We're sometimes a little isolated up here in Northeast Texas," Elliott said. "But I firmly believe in partnerships, community engagement and efficient use of resources, especially for small towns."
Elliott came to the attention of the TML recently after submitting an article on just what Linden and Cass County were doing to work together, particularly having organized a Cass County Economic Development Consortium to meet monthly to discuss similar problems and opportunities. The article ran in the March issue of Texas Town & City, an official publication of the TML.
The Small Cities Advisory Council, formed in 1990, advises the TML board of directors and staff. It has influenced programs such as TML's Small Cities' Problem-Solving Clinics, the Small Cities' Corner feature in the Texas Town & City Magazine, and a workshop tuition scholarship program for small cities and small city sessions at elected officials' conferences.
The SCAC is made up of two representatives from 16 regions of the state appointed for two-year terms and meeting three times a year.
Elliott's first role with the Council will be to meet in person Thursday, May 11, in Bastrop, Texas, for the planning of sessions on the topic of strong cities and effective leadership. In fact, Elliott and others are asked to submit ideas and outlines for such sessions which may be approved and conducted.
Elliott has 22 years of executive level experience, having worked or consulted in five different states. He has held positions ranging from city manager, chief administrative officer, finance director, planning director, community and economic development director, public works director and human resources director.
As a consultant, he has been able to assist more than 30 cities. He became Linden city administrator in June of 2021. Having grown up in New Boston, he went to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas, to major in history. But it was a course in city planning that changed his future.
"My undergrad degree was in political science, but when I took my internship in city planning, I fell in love with city government. I was going to be a football coach, but that last semester I changed to city planning," Elliott said.
Upon graduation, he undertook a different way to gain experience. He would fill in as the interim administrator for cities which were making leadership changes. He did this for seven years in such places as Missouri, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona and at the border of Texas and New Mexico.
"This was fun, but I was getting tired of the years. So when I decided to settle down, it was with my wife-to-be Rebecca Harris, whose hometown is Texarkana. Fortunately, the Linden position had come open."
For Linden, Elliott is both city manager and director of the Linden Economic Development Corporation.