Jud Rex announces departure from Denison

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Denison City Manager Jud Rex announced Friday that he will be leaving the city for a new assistant city manager position within the city of Garland.

After five years with the Denison, City Manager Jud Rex announced Friday morning his departure for an assistant city manager position in Garland. Rex will take the new position starting at the beginning on 2021, but his final day with the city will be Dec. 11.

During Rex's tenure, the city saw significant growth and the completion of major projects, including the Texoma Health Foundation Park among others.

Rex first stepped into Denison leadership in early 2015 when he was hired  as the city's new assistant city manager. A few months later, he became the interim city manager following the departure of City Manager Robert Hanna for the city of Abilene. 

Later that same year, Rex officially became the city manager.

“Five years ago, our community was so fortunate to have Jud on board as assistant city manager and he quickly demonstrated that he was the right person, at the right time, to serve as our next city manager," Denison Mayor Janet Gott said Friday in a news release. "Under Jud’s leadership and at the direction of the City Council, Denison has seen tremendous progress in recent years.

"Jud has served our community well and we will definitely miss his leadership and presence in our community! He will be difficult to replace but we wish him well in his next position, Garland’s gain is certainly our loss.”

Rex said he was approached a few weeks ago about an assistant manager position in Garland. After interviewing for the position and being accepted, Rex decided to take the position adding that he feels it will be a good next step for his career.

Rex said his focus as the city's assistant manager will be on primarily on planning, economic development and neighborhood services. The cities of Garland and Denison share some similarities as older towns that were once focused on the rail industry. Rex anticipated that redevelopment, like what has occurred in Denison over the past five years, will be a major focus point in Garland.

"My background really is in planning and development. So that's what I really will be focusing on with the city of Garland," he said.

Looking back at his time with Denison, Rex said he is proud to have been a part of many of the major projects that have taken place in recent years. However, his greatest accomplishment isn't one that is physically seen.

Rex said his proudest accomplishment with Denison is the work that led to the city once again having representation and oversight over the Clara Blackford and W. Aubrey Smith Foundation. City officials announced earlier this year that the city would once again have representation in how the foundation's funds are distributed, following the board's dissolution in 2017.

"You talk about long term impact, that one is huge." Rex said, noting the foundation's $30 million local impact over the years.

One of the recent developments that Rex said he regrets he will not see to completion  is the ongoing work on the Katy Trail. Once completed, the mixed-used trail system will provide yet another means of connectivity through the city on what was once a railroad right of way.

"Phase one is so close to being finished, but we have really three-and-a-half miles behind it that are almost read to go. When 2021 rolls around, and they are placing the bridge over Loy Lake Road for the Katy Trail, I plan to be there to watch it because I am going to miss being a part of moving into the future."

In the coming days, he said he will work with the council to determine the best transition to interim leadership and eventually a new city manager. This will likely start as early as Monday during the next City Council meeting.

Up until recently, Denison has been searching for a new assistant city manager to fill the void that Rex left five years ago. However, Rex said he feels this should be filled by the next city manager and he is recommending that the city suspend its search for the time being.

“Denison has and will accomplish much because of the shared community vision and persistence of so many dedicated hearts and minds,” Rex said in the news release. “It has been a privilege and blessing to serve the city of Denison. My time here has been one of change, excitement, growth, and challenge. Denison is an incredible community, blessed with a group of committed, passionate leaders serving their community.

"I will never forget the amazing people this community has at the helm, inside and outside the organization. Together, Team Denison has accomplished much, and the City’s future is incredibly bright.”