Public servants who quietly serve their community with a professional, efficient and friendly approach are often overlooked. Paul Cardoza is one of those, and the Los Banos’s Parks and Recreation Manager should be acknowledged.
Cardoza, who has worked in the city’s Public Services Department for a quarter-century, will be retiring later this month. During his tenure, Cardoza has earned the admiration and respect of the people he has worked for and with.
“I first met Paul when he was hired as a maintenance person for the Parks and Recreation Department,” said Rick Dahlgren. “This was more years ago than I can count, but at the time I was Director of Parks and Recreation and Joe Sousa was serving as assistant director.
“When an employee progresses through the ranks in a city department to become the operations manager of that department, you know they have a great work ethic,” added Dahlgren. “I have only heard positive comments about Paul’s ability to work with people to get the job done.”
Sousa became Parks and Recreation Director after Dahlgren retired and worked with Cardoza for 15 years. He called Cardoza “the best hire I ever made. He’s the most honest and reliable person I know. He’s dedicated and hardworking. And when he says he’s going to do something, he does it.
“I’m honored to be not only his colleague but his friend,” said Souza. “He’s a guy I can always count on.”
Sharon Hogan, who worked with Cardoza for many years, calls him “one in a million.” She remembers Paul as “the first one to volunteer, a person who goes out of his way to help.
“Los Banos is lucky to have had someone who has worked so well with the community,” Hogan added. “He is definitely a people person, who enjoys helping others.”
Rob Baker, who has been a colleague of Cardoza’s the past 17 years, recalls meeting him in March of 2000: “I had a good feeling then, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with him ever since. He is a hard working guy and gives the city 100 percent every day at work.
“Paul is very understanding,” Rob said. “He really cares about his employees and looks out for them. Even though I am excited for him that he’s retiring, I will miss working with him.”
It’s apparent there’s a Cardoza consensus. And I’m not surprised. Over the years I’ve worked with Cardoza, and I’ve had the same positive experience, going back to 1999 when I first served on the city’s Park and Recreation Commission and continuing through my time on the Tree Commission this year.
At meetings, Cardoza has given thoughtful, detailed reports. He is always willing to listen to questions and suggestions, and more importantly follow up with actions.
My fondest memories have been at the many Arbor Days over the past 25 years. Working with Sousa and then Baker, Cardoza always made sure that day went well. With music, recognition of participating businesses and residents and awards for children. Those celebrations let the world know that Los Banos – a Tree City, USA – cares deeply about trees, parks and green space and recognizes how important they are to the city’s quality of life.
During the past 20 years, whenever I’ve contacted Cardoza to make a point about parks or trees, or when I needed his advice and guidance, he has always been willing to help, with a courtesy that is rare in today’s world.
I’m not alone in saying it will be hard to imagine the Public Services Department without him. So many people in Los Banos have seen him over the past 25 years as the “face of Parks and Rec.”
Cardoza says he’s simply doing his job, which is to serve the city and its residents. He doesn’t seek recognition and usually deflects praise toward others.
Like many others, I wish Cardoza the best in retirement. To paraphrase a scriptural passage, I, along with the entire community, say to him, “Well done, good and faithful public servant.”
John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.