Tony Delgado

Name: Tony Delgado

Title: Lakeland City Manager (since Jan. 1)

Age: Turns 55 today

Define what you do in 25 words or less: I am the executive in charge of providing a multitude of services to the residential and business community, everything from electric and water to police and fire.

What kind of workplace is it?: It’s an office, but I tend to be a walk-around executive, so my office is not just on the third floor of City Hall but all over the city because we have facilities throughout the city.

What in your workplace shows off your passions? I’m a sports fanatic so I have a lot of sports memorabilia in my office (editor’s note: Chicago Cubs predominate). I’m a huge fan of live music so you’ll see a few albums in frames (Santana, Grateful Dead). A lot of things from metal detecting; a lot of people don’t know that I like to go out and find things with my metal detector. I have clowns that were given to me by promoters for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus who I worked with for many years.

What project are you excited about? The Se7en Wetlands Park project will transform a wetlands for wastewater into a conservation area with trails that the public can visit and enjoy amazing wildlife in its natural habitat. Taking a look at the overall structure of our organization and building a greater level of communication with the public; getting department heads to realize it’s OK to get out there and talk a little bit. We’ve got a litany of park projects. We’ve got NoBay and those developers doing their thing. We hope to get the federal building up and running hopefully with a leasehold soon. And some of the renovations at The Lakeland Center, where I got my start, to make us more attractive to meetings and conventions as well as entertainment.

What’s your most important work tool? The interactions I have; my presence and my voice. I’m a people person. I like to engage; I like to converse. I enjoy the art of conversation, even if it’s only 10 minutes with a client, a resident or somebody on staff.

Mac or PC? I actually have four devices in this office. I’ve got a Surface (Microsoft tablet). I’ve got my PC. I’ve got my iPad and my iPhone. So I am connected.

Favorite productivity tools: I’ve given my calendar up to my assistant because she knows better. So probably my favorite productivity tool continues to be my PC and getting information out, connecting with people through email. Second favorite is my phone or iPad because I do text on occasion; I can be on the go and still get email.

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Tip for keeping organized: Having a great assistant. Before I took this position, I tried to keep myself organized. Return phone calls as soon as you can. It keeps you engaged and it takes that item off the table. Try to return any kind of email. I’ve always had a 24-hour rule when it comes to communication. If I can’t get you an answer in a reasonable time period, I’ll at least send a quick note saying I’m working on it so they’ll know I’m on top of it,

Favorite diversions on your mobile: I’m a big music fan, so I like Live365. It allows you to get curated stations for all genres of music.

Any particular stations you listen to? I grew up a rock and roller. I had a passion for progressive rock, so Yes, Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer. I’m also a fan of jazz fusion, Pat Metheny and folks like that. There’s not many stations like that unless you’re on Sirius or XM or something like that.

Are any other apps your go-tos? Obviously, Facebook. It’s allowed me to connect again with people I’ve lost touch with — high-school and college friends, folks in Chicago that I grew up with, folks in St. Louis who I worked with at the arena there. It’s helped me keep in touch with family. But also from a professional standpoint it’s been positive. We’ve got a great Facebook page and I’ve found that a lot of people in the community connect with that and they’ll tag me so I get an opportunity to answer them directly. And the last thing: I am a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan, so anything  I can take in from to Sportsmockery, I just eat it up.

Favorite information site – other than lkldnow: I’m a fan of MSN. I read a lot of newspapers, so there’s a few sites that provide links to most newspapers throughout the United States and the world. So I try to stay in touch not with just newspapers I’m familiar with — The Ledger, Tampa Tribune, Chicago Tribune — but anything I think might have some pertinent information.

How do you have time? I don’t. That’s why I’m up late at night.

What do you usually wear to work? Most people see City Hall as a little stuffy. I’ll wear the traditional suit, tie, sportscoat when needed. But for the most part, we’ll come in a nice pair of slacks and a golf polo shirt or a button-up shirt. But because of my position, a sports coat is always with me.

How did you prepare for what you do? I took a unique road to get here. I spent 18 years in sports/entertainment management and promotion — helping run venues. It was truly a customer service mentality — customer-centric, I’ve been calling it. In that realm, we sold experience. Then in the last 15 years as assistant and deputy city manager, I learned all aspects of our operation – 17 different industries — everything from police and fire to water and wastewater and solid waste. I never lost the idea that what we do is provide customer service. Whether it’s the ticket-buying public or the taxpaying public, it’s the same thing.

What book, TV show, movie or music has captured your imagination lately? I started getting back into my jam band phase: everything from the Dead to String Cheese to the Allman Brothers, Tedeschi Trucks, blues jams. That kind of music helps you de-stress; it’s not like listening to hard rock.

What’s your favorite leisure activity? Besides sitting on my couch and going into deep couch city — which is  few and far between these days — I enjoy live music and live sporting events. So if I get an opportunity to grab a ticket to music or sports or even a Broadway show, I try to do that.

Is there something you’re working on that makes Lakeland a more livable community? There are so many things. This is a community that is on the verge of being a regional powerhouse. We are on par of the Tampas and Orlandos, and everybody notices that.

What about Lakeland makes you excited or has you worried? Excited about the fact that so many folks are engaged. Not just the development community, but we’re starting to see residents wanting to be more engaged. When you see things like farmer’s markets pop up or new cultural stores or unique places like the Poor Porker, KRaP Art, Catapult. People want to be engaged. That excites a lot of people within our organization. What has us worried? This is kind of a two-edged sword. We want to grow but we want it to be good growth. So trying to make sure you can balance the things the community wants with maintaining good growth so that 20 or 30 years down the road it doesn’t become a Pandora’s box.

Social media profiles: Facebook

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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