Public Works Week: Get to Know James Velez-Conway, John Ramirez, and Jason Porter

May 24, 2019
by Delana Gbenekama

Public Works Week: Get to Know James Velez-Conway, John Ramirez, and Jason Porter

In recognition of National Public Works Week, we are featuring 11 standout public works employees you should know! These employees are also being honored this week as Public Work's Employees of the Year.

James Velez-Conway, Office of Sustainability and the Environment

What does your job entail?
Developing and implementing a broad range of programs and policies along with communicating to multiple community stakeholders the importance of our collective roles and responsibilities in reaching the city's overarching sustainability goals while focusing on achieving zero waste, carbon neutrality, and water self-sufficiency. 

What do you like most about your job (favorite thing to work on)? 
I especially enjoy providing sustainability walking, biking, and bus tours to new employees and members of the public. I also enjoy the fact that I sometimes get to go surfing before work and play volleyball at lunch. 

What does Public Works mean to you?
My extended family and friends of dedicated co-workers who provide the necessary services and infrastructure to maintain a thriving globally recognized sustainable urban environment.

How long have you been a Public Works employee?
I think this is my 19th year but I stopped counting a while ago.

What do you wish people knew about your job?
It’s not always easy but like most people I try to maintain a positive attitude when approaching what sometimes feels like insurmountable challenges. Without the people around me my job would be impossible. I rely wholeheartedly on the team in my section for their courage, support, inspiration, and work ethic.

John Ramirez, Resource, Recovery, and Recycling

What does your job entail?
As an RRR Equipment operator I have many duties and responsibilities.  For example, ensuring the safety of my vehicle before operation and ensuring my side person works safely when collecting my work assignment.  My main goal when performing these duties is to provide on-time service to our Santa Monica residents and customers. 

What do you like most about your job (favorite thing to work on)? 
I love collecting resources for the City of Santa Monica. For some, it may not be a fun thing to do, but for me one of the most exciting things I get to do now is train new employees on how to properly and safely operate a Front Loader vehicle. Every day is a new challenge since not everyone has the same character. 

What does Public Works mean to you?
It means helping keep the City of Santa Monica clean and ensuring the public’s health. 

How long have you been a Public Works employee? 
I have been with the RRR Division for 8 years and enjoy working here.

What do you wish people knew about your job?
I wish people knew that being an RRR Equipment Operator is a very dangerous position and an important function of the City of Santa Monica. The light side of it is that I get to engage with the public and meet new people.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Being with the City of Santa Monica is a great experience and a one-time opportunity, which I took advantage of by moving up in the Division to be where I am now. I thank everyone in RRR for their guidance and knowledge in helping me grow. 

Jason Porter, Water Resources

What does your job entail?
Pumping, cleaning, disinfecting and delivering safe, quality drinking water to Santa Monica citizens.

What do you like most about your job (favorite thing to work on)? 
I enjoy my team the most! My favorite thing to work on is our reservoirs, which are artificial underground lakes where water is stored. The Riviera Reservoir holds 25 million gallons of water. The San Vicente and Mt. Olivette reservoirs both hold 5 million gallons each.

What does Public Works mean to you?
Providing friendly customer service and being there for the Santa Monica community in their time of need (e.g., dispatching crews for after-hour emergencies). 

How long have you been a Public Works employee? 
I have worked for Santa Monica since Feb. 20, 2018. Prior to joining the Santa Monica team, I worked for the City of Simi Valley for two years and IDE Desalination for City of Santa Barbara for two years.

What do you wish people knew about your job?
That it takes time, effort and hard work to produce safe, quality drinking water, and schooling and certifications to sustain my job.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I love working at Arcadia Treatment Plant. It's a beautiful facility. 
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