We’d like to welcome Mesa's newly named city manager, Chris Brady, to the East Valley and to a job that in all likelihood will be the biggest challenge of his life. He appears to be up to the challenge in every way.
The Mesa City Council is to be commended for conducting a nationwide search for a replacement for current City Manager Mike Hutchinson, who will retire at the end of the year.
Brady, who's worked the past five years as San Antonio's assistant city manager, has publicly committed to maintain Mesa's “excellent level of services,” and therein lies his greatest challenge. While Mesa has high quality public safety services as well and recreational, cultural and educational services, the latter categories are threatened by sagging revenues. Also threatened is Mesa's maintenance of infrastructure, e.g., streets and utilities.
Although the mayor and City Council will have to do most of the campaigning for an expected May election in which voters likely will be asked to raise the sales tax and approve creation of a property tax, Brady also will have an important role. While the mayor and council set overall policy, under Mesa's Charter it's the city manager who runs the city. Public confidence in Brady to carry on Mesa's tradition of efficiency will be critical to winning approval of the tax measures.
Beyond that, Brady's challenges also will include the badly needed revitalization of much of west Mesa, which has been showing distressing signs of decline in recent years. Eminent domain is essentially gone — and for good reason — as the municipal tool of choice in redevelopment projects. Instead, city officials must diplomatically the private investment needed to breathe new life into declining neighborhoods.
Brady has a good track record in that area, as well, having negotiated to bring a Toyota manufacturing plant, a convention center and a PGA tour golf course and tournament to San Antonio, along with private development to a former military base.
He'll need all of those proven skills and more as he takes the reins from Hutchinson. We wish him success.