Ray Gosack, an ICMA Credentialed Manager since 2003 and an ICMA member since 1980, currently serves as both city administrator for Fort Smith, Arkansas, and president of the Arkansas City Management Association. Gosack began his career in public service as an administrative intern for Sebastian County, Arkansas, in 1984; became administrative assistant for Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1985; then assistant village manager and director of management services for the village of Homewood, Illinois, in 1988. He returned to Fort Smith when he became deputy city administrator in 1996 and then city administrator in 2011. Gosack earned both a bachelor of arts in government and a master’s in public administration from the University of Arkansas.
Serving in a state that has fewer than ten cities with council-manager government, Gosack’s focus has been “to promote professional local government management, regardless of the form of government.” One issue that ICMA members face daily, according to Gosack, is “demonstrating to the public the value of professional local government management. The public wants assurance that its tax dollars are being spent wisely. Professional management strengthens the public’s confidence in us.”
One way that Gosack demonstrates the value of profession management is by fostering collaboration and consensus building among councilmembers and with the public. He explains that, “in our culture of special interests and the mentality of ‘having it your way,’ professional managers can aid the process of public dialogue to arrive at meaningful and effective decisions that consider diverse viewpoints.”
In looking to redefine Fort Smith’s economy for the twenty-first century and beyond, Gosack is striving “to create an environment where the city government, Chamber of Commerce, local universities, and school district all collaborate to transition Fort Smith to an information- and technology-based economy.” He notes that educational opportunities are the cornerstones of these efforts, and the efforts should result in making Fort Smith a place of quality that helps attract young professionals.
When asked what ICMA means to him, Gosack commented, “ICMA fulfills the needs of city and county professionals during every phase of their careers. Members will serve their communities well by putting ICMA’s vast resources to work and by offering their time and talents to ICMA.”