EARLY — Tony Aaron is an outdoorsman. Some of his hobbies include hunting, fishing and camping throughout central Texas, as well as visiting some of the most acclaimed state parks in the Lone Star state. It’s a time where the 42-year-old, along with his wife and two teenage children, can have some private time and recharge for the workweek.
Aaron has been a key figure for this area, most notably with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years. He prides himself on being a student in whatever task at hand. Closing in on his one-year mark of manning the city administrator job for the City of Early, the former sergeant for the county’s criminal investigation unit and former member of the United States Army Reserve recently sat down with the Bulletin to catch up and reflect on the city’s progress the last 12 months.
Bulletin: You like to put yourself in that mode of constant learning. How essential has that trait been for you and this job?
Tony Aaron: Having that mindset of being a student puts you in a situation where you’re seeking out how other people are doing it. You’re not necessarily trying to reinvent the wheel but you’re learning by other peoples’ successes and failures and trying to bring that into the decisions that you make daily. I think my first year here — being unfamiliar with a lot of things, going and calling peers and colleagues and researching — really slowed things down in making the best decisions I could, instead of just making decisions of what I thought.
BB: What do you feel you’ve learned the most since taking over a year ago?
TA: Your skillset and knowledge has to be diverse. You have department heads taking care of certain aspects of the city but you just have to be diverse — knowing what’s going on with the water, the police department, the fire department. Everything.
BB: You were in law enforcement for 17 years with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. What was that transition like?
TA: Really having to learn the ins and outs, the fine details of how we collect our water bills, how we deal with utility outages — all those types of things. If you surround yourself with good people, you can help motivate them, encourage them; they’re going to do a good job. I like to be a cheerleader for my employees. I like to back them up so they can succeed and let them become the successful organization and not necessarily me.
BB: What made you want to make that move from law enforcement to city administrator?
TA: I took a government class while at Howard Payne (University) and learned how involved local government is, and the idea of being in the city administration struck me. It intrigued me.
BB: Since I’ve known you, it seems you have made it a point to host citywide events and try to bring businesses to Early. Other than the aspect of increasing the business economy, why do you think it’s important to do this?
TA: When I first took over and started to meet people within the city — whether it’s at social events or people at the grocery store —they started saying, ‘Hey why can’t we get this business here.’ I’ve really followed of what the people wanted; a lot of the things we have done have been behind suggestions and ideas that the public has given us, and not things that I made something up. It’s just being the legs and putting things to work of what the people want. There’s a lot of opportunity within our community, and I’ll do whatever I can to leave it in a better place than I found it.