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To celebrate its bicentennial in 2024, the city of Victoria is hosting a series of events to engage citizens and visitors alike while bringing public attention to the South Texas community’s rich history and present-day livability.

Its welcoming and safe environment is due, in part, to the work of dedicated public servants like Assistant City Manager Darrek Ferrell ’09 ’11. He credits Texas A&M University and the Bush School of Government and Public Service with preparing him for his career in local government. “The Aggie core values guide how we treat our citizens every day,” he said. “We have to respect varying opinions but ethically behave in a way that honors all citizens and provides services to everyone.”

Ferrell is part of a younger generation of city officials stepping into a gap created by an aging workforce. According to the 2023 Texas City Management Association Membership Survey, about 55% of respondents are eligible to retire—and more than 80% of this subset plan to do so within the next decade.

The Bush School's City and County Governance Program trains ethical leaders for local government to address the growing statewide need for qualified public servants.

Realizing the growing demand, the Bush School is enhancing its ability to prepare local public servants for small-to-medium-sized communities through the creation of its City and County Governance Program. Launched in 2022 at the request of Texas A&M President Mark A. Welsh III, the Bush School’s dean at the time, the program offers a concentration as part of the Master of Public Service and Administration degree.

Bush School administrators realize that significant career opportunities exist for graduates who want to work in local government. “There are tons of small Texas communities with unlimited potential,” said Professor Paul Hofmann ’81 ’83, the program’s director and a former city manager with 39 years of Texas city management experience. “These cities need people with backgrounds in policy development, economics and engineering, among others.”

“Bush School hires arrive educationally prepared and always ready to collaborate and take on more responsibility.”
– Mike Goodrum ’01, City of Sugar Land City Manager

The new program has an early champion in Drayton McLane Jr., who saw the need for qualified local public servants in his hometown of Cameron, Texas, and in other small communities where his company conducts business. “Many city managers were just businesspeople in town who were appointed city managers but weren’t qualified to do the job,” the McLane Group CEO explained. His initial $500,000 investment jumpstarted the concentration and paved the way for Hofmann’s hiring as well as other high-impact experiences.

In addition to preparing Bush School students, the new program is expanding its influence among current city leaders through its annual symposium, which has focused on themes ranging from public safety challenges to public sector workforce issues. “These symposiums are a great opportunity to not only learn and attract a new generation of leaders but also inspire those who have been in local government awhile to think about new ways of overcoming challenges,” said Reagan Rothenberger ’17, City of Southlake planning manager.

One of the new generation’s leaders, Zyreshia Jackson ’23, is already relishing the opportunity to use what she learned to make a difference in her job as a City of Bryan community and economic development specialist. “When we think of government, we often think about federal government, but local government is so refreshing. It’s the form of government closest to the people,” she explained. “It’s where you can serve with the greatest sense of accountability because you know you’re doing the groundwork and finding the most effective approach to build a better tomorrow.”

Notable facts:

Aging Workforce

Texas has an aging city and county government workforce. The Texas City Management Association surveyed 1,165 members in 2023, and of the 347 respondents:

  • 30% were over 60 years old, 30% were 50 to 59 years old, and 21% were 40 to 49 years old.
  • 54% had been employed in local government more than 20 years, while 15% had been employed in local government for 16 to 20 years.
  • 54% were eligible to retire. Of these, 54% plan to retire within the next five years, while 29% plan to retire in six to 10 years.

Career Opportunities

Careers in local government are diverse, encompassing positions in city management, finance, public works, economic development, planning and zoning, and parks and recreation. Bush School students pursuing the city and county government concentration have undergraduate degrees spanning anthropology, business administration, criminology, economics, education, history, international studies, journalism, political science and sociology.

Program Enrollment

34 Bush School students currently participate in the City and County Governance Program concentration.

Student Testimonies

“The Bush School taught me to always ask ‘why’ and to dig deeper into an issue to find the root cause.” – Kylie Jackson ’17, Director of Data and Innovation for the City of Sugar Land

“Bush School classes were essential in preparing me for my internship in New Braunfels. Professors emphasize teamwork and innovative thinking, two values essential to the success of local government organizations.” – Christopher Greenwell ’22 ’24, City and County Governance Program Concentration

The Next Generation

24% of the Bush School’s 2023 graduating class accepted local city and county government jobs.

Ready to support the next generation of local government leaders? The City and County Governance Program seeks scholarships for students, operational support and internship funding. Contact Megan Alvear ’21, assistant director of development, at the bottom of this page to learn more.


  • Megan Alvear '21

  • Assistant Director of Development
  • Bush School of Government and Public Service
  • Call: 979.845.4114

Make Your Impact

Assist the next generation of local government leaders with a gift for the City and County Governance Program's Excellence Fund.