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Langley's new public works directors shows up — with cookies
Maria Cablao has the get-to-it attitude that Langley was looking for in its new public works director.
Cablao, who has worked in California’s public sector since 1988, has a history of getting work done, even if it means leaving her desk to do it.
In checking with Cablao’s references, Mayor Fred McCarthy heard a story of her time working in solid waste management. When someone wasn’t able to drive one of the garbage trucks, she jumped behind the wheel and loaded up trash.
“Her ability to do the on-the-ground work is something we’re really going to enjoy,” said McCarthy at her official appointment during the Aug. 5 Langley City Council meeting.
The city’s last public works director, Challis Stringer, left for another job with the City of Mukilteo in late April. Ryan Goodman was tabbed as the interim director for a couple of months, but public works operated without a department head since July.
Cablao holds engineering licenses in Washington, Oregon and California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor’s degree of science in civil engineering in 1990.
Out of college, Cablao began a long public works career in Sacramento County that lasted until 2011. She and her husband own a rental home in Langley and planned to move to Whidbey in 2014. When the public works director position - an annual salary between $63,600 and $68,844 plus benefits - opened, Cablao saw the right opportunity to make the move a year early. They have tenants in their home now, and will not be able to move in until next year, she said.
“I’m just grateful to be here,” Cablao said. “I walk to work every day now.”
On the day of her official appointment Monday, Cablao made a strong first impression at City Hall.
“She came in today with a plate full of delicious cookies,” said McCarthy, adding that she has a manhole-shaped cookie and candy jar.
Cablao said she’ll have an open door policy and plans to keep the manhole jar full.
As public works director, Cablao plans, organizes, directs and coordinates construction, operation and maintenance of Langley’s water and sewer, stormwater drainage, streets, parks, grounds, gardens and public buildings, such as City Hall and the Firehouse on Second Street.
Major projects are ahead for Langley, including the massive Second Street redesign, which the city hopes to begin at the end of the year.