J.D. Hock named acting city manager for Del City
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Del City has a change of leadership.
Mike Cantrell recently announced he is retiring after 32 years with the city. He has served as acting city manager since February 2020 following a long career with the public works department.
J.D. Hock has been promoted to acting city manager.
Cantrell said he has loved working for Del City residents but believes the time is right.
“I’ve been on call for 32 years and I’ve missed a lot of things,” he said. “It’s time for me to be with my family.”
Cantrell said he doesn’t plan to pursue a new career and will instead enjoy time with family as well as plenty of hunting and fishing.
Cantrell is a Del City native. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army and served in Operation Desert Storm and was honorably discharged in 1991. He later started his career with the City of Del City in waterline maintenance.
“I got out of the military and was looking for a job,” he said. “Waterline maintenance was hiring and they hired me for $6.53 an hour in July of 1991.”
Cantrell served variety of roles with the public works department, code enforcement, wastewater treatment plant, water department. He was later promoted to deputy public works director and later public works director.
In February of 2020, Cantrell was appointed as acting city manager. He immediately helped the city navigate the pandemic with minimal disruption to residents.
“For him to be only here a month and help us through an unprecedented pandemic is a pretty big deal,” Hock said. “He took care of the departments. The water still flowed, fires still got put out, and police still took care of the citizens.”
Cantrell presented a calm demeanor that was contagious among city staff and subscribed to the servant leadership model.
“You should know all of your employees and they should not be afraid of management,” Cantrell said. “You should have a good healthy relationship with everybody and that’s the toughest thing to do because you’re tied up with 22,000 residents and seven different departments. But your first goal has to the employees. They’re the ones that do the work.”
Brittany Parrot, assistant to the city manager, said the City of Del City is a better place because of Cantrell.
“He is a perfect example of a strong work ethic, loyalty, fairness, and knowledge,” she said. “He has devoted 31 years of his life to this City and the last three years have been dedicated to each and every employee that works here. He truly cares about the employees and resident, and has left an everlasting footprint in so many lives. He provided a culture change in municipal government, and treated the cleaning crew the same as the council, the administrative assistant the same as the department head; the guy repairing the sewer line the same as the CEO. I am beyond grateful to have gotten the opportunity to work alongside him day in and day out.”
The city council named Hock to the position at the Feb. 21 city council meeting. It will give the council enough time to evaluate the position and find a long-term replacement.
“I love this job and I love anything I can do for the city,” Hock said. “They always put someone in as acting city manager first to make sure it’s going to work out before they offer a full-time position.
That’s entirely up to the mayor and council but I really appreciate the confidence and do my best to keep the city moving forward.”
Hock is a former city council member and currently serves as the city’s economic development director. Hock will continue to oversee economic development, while city planner Kellie Wilbanks handles other duties including community development.
He said his goal will be to maintain a balanced budget and continue bringing in grant money, sales tax and additional revenue.
Cantrell’s last day with the city is March 17.