After spending two hours in executive session, city manager Horacio De Leon announced his retirement.

“After discussion with the council as to the future and the vision with this city, I think its best I enter into early retirement.”

Last night, council members were about to discuss the city manager’s employment contract. His last evaluation was approved in August.

After hearing the announcement, several community members gasped. Before leaving the room, each council member thanked De Leon for his years of service. As De Leon made his way outside the door, he received a standing ovation.

“I would just like to thank the mayor and city council for the opportunity to allow me to serve as the city of Laredo as city manager for a year and a half. I have almost 26 years with the city and so it has been a great career.”

An interim city manager was not appointed last night, but officials say deputy city manager Cynthia Collazo is next in line. She was not present at last night’s meeting and was not available today to speak to our cameras.

“It’s my understanding that Ms. Collazo will probably be retiring. You would have to confirm that with her but if she does retire at the end of January it will force us to appoint an interim city manager.”

Saenz says he would like to hire someone out of Laredo, an idea he will discuss with other council members.

At hearing De Leon’s announcement, Saenz said the news took him by surprise. Adding his departure will have an impact on some projects, but that they will continue to move forward with them. Saenz also says De Leon would receive compensation.

“We would have to honor his contract and it is my understanding he would have two-year severance pay and other benefits under his contract.”

As for De Leon, he says he looks forward to enjoying his retirement.

A special meeting will take place to discuss the next steps in replacing De Leon’s position.