As two of his assistant city managers prepare to depart, City Manager Erik Walsh has found two new hires.

The City announced Monday two internal hires that will soon move into the city manager’s office. Alex Lopez, director of the City’s economic development department, and Jeff Coyle, the City’s director of government and public affairs, are San Antonio’s two newest assistant city managers. They start on March 22.

City staff considered applicants from outside San Antonio but ultimately decided to hire from within, Walsh said.

“We conducted a national search, which gave me the opportunity to compare our internal candidates to talent outside of the City organization,” Walsh said in a prepared statement. “I’m excited about Alex and Jeff’s new role with our organization. They both have exhibited great initiative and leadership, and I’m looking forward to them helping lead this organization.”

Coyle, who started working with the City in 2013, is San Antonio’s chief spokesperson and lobbyist as the director of governmental and public affairs. He also started the SASpeakUp engagement platform that staff uses to gather public feedback. He said he feels “very fortunate” for this new opportunity.

City Public Affairs Director Jeff Coyle along with Assistant to the City Manager John Peterek listen in during the press conference at the San Antonio Professional Fire Fighters Association headquarters.
City Public Affairs Director Jeff Coyle, right, and Assistant to the City Manager John Peterek listen in during a press conference at the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association headquarters. Coyle has been promoted to assistant city manager. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“San Antonio is a special place, and the City of San Antonio is a tremendous organization,” he said in a statement. “I’m honored by the confidence that Erik has in me, grateful for everything that Carlos [Contreras] has taught me, and especially thankful to the Government and Public Affairs team that does exceptional work every single day.”

Lopez has worked for the City of San Antonio for nearly 15 years. Before leading the Economic Development Department, she also served as the City’s Interim Chief Equity Officer. She also was “instrumental” in the development and outreach around the workforce development proposition that voters approved last November, according to a news release Monday.

“While economic development has been my focus for 10 years, I am excited about the opportunity to serve our community and the City team in this new capacity,” she said in a statement. “I have worked with and learned from great professionals in this field and appreciate Erik’s confidence in making this appointment.”

Alejandra ‘Alex’ Lopez, director of economic development for the City of San Antonio, has been promoted to assistant city manager. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The two will bring the city manager’s office back to full staffing once assistant city managers Colleen Bridger and Carlos Contreras leave. Bridger first announced her intention to leave the City and launch her own business in May 2020 but was delayed when former San Antonio Metropolitan Health District director Dawn Emerick resigned less than five months after starting. Bridger has been overseeing the City’s pandemic response in her stead. Walsh previously said Bridger plans to exit by early summer.

Goodwill San Antonio announced in February that Contreras will lead the organization as its new CEO. Contreras oversaw the City’s departments of aviation, Pre-K 4 SA, convention and sports facilities, government and public affairs, and economic development, where he led the Train for Jobs and Ready to Work initiatives. 

Lopez and Coyle’s responsibilities have yet to be announced; Walsh is restructuring his office and will release an organizational chart later this week, according to a Monday news release.

Both Lopez and Coyle will continue to serve in their respective positions as interim directors until their replacements are found. The City has already started a nationwide search for applicants, according to the news release.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.