G.K. Maenius, Tarrant County administrator since 1988, will be tough to replace, many say
See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Abby Church here.
G.K. Maenius has kept meaning to leave his job as Tarrant County’s top administrator, but his sense of responsibility caused him to stay.
How much longer Maenius would be with the county was a question in the minds of employees and reporters coursing through the county government building at 100 E. Weatherford St. in downtown Fort Worth for the past year, especially as new leadership took over.
Maenius had to adjust his original plans for retirement when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. He knew he needed to stay on a bit longer to help guide the county through the turbulent times.
Flash forward to three new commissioners taking the bench on the court this past January and that same sense of responsibility came into play again. He told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he had to help the new court through the transition.
Maenius, 71, who has been Tarrant County’s administrator since 1988, will retire Sept. 30 — right after he helps the new court through the process of writing its first budget.
“I honestly believe that after 35 years, this county needs a new county administrator, chief administrative officer, and new ideas and new ways of looking at issues,” Maenius said Thursday morning.
Maenius is the longest-serving county administrator in Texas, serving over three decades of rapid growth. Tarrant is now the second fastest growing county in the state with more than 2.1 million people.
He oversees a county government with more than 4,600 employees and an operating budget of $900 million.
G.K. MAENIUS WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLACE, SAYS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Ask new, past and longtime county commissioners and they will all tell you the same thing about Maenius — that he’ll be impossible to replace.
“G.K. Maenius is a Tarrant County institution,” County Judge Tim O’Hare said. “He is a man of the utmost integrity and is simply irreplaceable. He has faithfully served Tarrant County for over 35 years, leaving a lasting legacy of service to this amazing place we call home. We celebrate G.K. and his accomplishments. His retirement is well-earned.”
Former county judge Glen Whitley said Maenius’ shoes will be impossible to fill, and that Maenius was widely respected.
Longtime commissioner Gary Fickes said it was a “big old tree that fell” when Maenius announced his retirement. He called Maenius a “legend” who has written the book on how to run counties and said he will be sorely missed.
Commissioner Roy Brooks has been in office 32 of Maenius’ 35 years. He said Maenius has been the calm influence on a court that often contained strong personalities, and that he has always been able to keep the court focused on doing what’s best for the county.
He has not known Maenius long, but in his six months on the court so far, commissioner Manny Ramirez said Maenius’ guidance has been invaluable. To Ramirez, Maenius has managed Tarrant County’s growth masterfully and he said Maenius has done the work to prepare the county’s next generation of leadership.
MAENIUS REFLECTS ON TIME AS TARRANT COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR
Maenius’ career has taken him all over the state.
The former police officer used to chair the group vice president of Governmental Affairs for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He was also the executive director of the Fort Worth Crime Commission, and before that he served in the governor’s office as the Texas Organized Crime Prevention Council’s program director.
With his experience and degree in public administration, Maenius said he believes that he had been preparing to take on his role in Tarrant County his entire life.
“I was very, very fortunate that they chose me,” Maenius said.
His favorite memories from his time in Tarrant County come right back to the people who he worked with, from the employees to the elected officials on the Commissioners Court. He described Tarrant County as a family.
“It’s always been a joy to come to work for the county,” Maenius said. “I can’t remember a day that I got out of bed and said I wished I hadn’t gone to the county.”
When you manage 69 different elected officials, it can be hard to move everything forward.
“The elected officials in this county have always banded together to move the county forward,” Maenius said. “It was something where that, they might have disagreed, but they never got to the point where that it stopped our movement forward. And so I’m just glad to be able to play some role in making that happen.”
Still, there were challenges. The county looks different now than it did in 1988 when he first started.
He calls the pandemic the greatest challenge he faced in office — with that stress still lingering in the county offices. Through all that, he said he is most proud of getting the county’s fiscal house in order. Maenius’ advice to the new administrator?
“You have a strong team, and you have good leaders,” he said. “You can’t do it all yourself. You never should. Make sure that you lean heavy on your staff and they’ll help you get to where you want to be.”
For Maenius, it’s been a “great ride” in Tarrant County. And the Fredericksburg native won’t be going far. He’ll still be in the community, and plans to work on his ranch near Fredericksburg while maintaining a home here.
“There’s no doubt about this — I will always cherish the time that I had with Tarrant County,” Maenius said.