Dan Blankenship is in the unusual situation of reflecting back while also looking forward.
Blankenship will soon leave his post of City of Stillwater Deputy Mayor to be Assistant City Manager for the City of Boerne, Texas.
The motivation came from he and his wife's desire to be closer to one of his sons. His son and daughter-in-law live in San Antonio. Grandchildren could be on the way, and Blankenship's wife "doesn't want to be an absentee grandma who only visits."
But he had to find the right opportunity.
Resarch brought Blankenship to Boerne, which is about half the size of Stillwater. It is about 30 miles northwest of San Antonio. Blankenship had a checklist. Geography was the easy part. But Boerne also checked the boxes for quality of life, progressive community, good reputation and it was a full-service city like Stillwater. He is also looking forward to working for Ronald Bowman, the longest-tenured city manager in Texas.
Boerne is going through a transition period of sorts, too. Proximity to San Antonio's area growth and an interstate highway makes Boerne a candidate for growth. To that end, Blankenship will oversee economic development, planning code enforcement and other areas related to city growth.
"It will be just as busy or busier as here," Blankenship said.
Blankenship spent more than 15 years working for the City of Stillwater, starting out at Director of Development Services before being promoted to the City Manager's office as Deputy City Manager and Stillwater Utilities Authority Director.
As Blankenship looks back at his time in Stillwater, he is most proud of team efforts such as the Stillwater Energy Center and the City's leadership academy.
Both Blankenship's sons grew up in Stillwater, part of the reason it will always feel like home and leaving a "very difficult decision."
"It has been a tremendous honor to serve people of Stillwater over the years," Blankenship said. "I have made some incredible friendships, got to know a lot of people. It was a great opportunity to do wonderful things here. I feel very good about the future of the community."
He also believes Stillwater continues to be in good hands with the likes of City Manager Norman McNickle, Waste Management Director Chris Knight, Electric Utility Director Loren Smith, Development Services Director Paula Dennison, Water Resources Director Bill Millis and Operations Director Mark White.
Blankenship was especially complimentary of McNickle and his operation.
"They couldn't have picked better fit," Blankenship said. "He had all the components needed to do that job and over the last couple years morphed into a real City Manager. His mode of thinking and how he handles things made for a successful transition.
"He is really is the face of the organization."