An inevitable change in Pierce County leadership is approaching as term-limited Executive Pat McCarthy prepares for her final year in office. But she may not be the only outgoing administrator.
Pierce County Deputy Executive Kevin Phelps is one of five finalists for the city manager job in Glendale, Arizona.
Phelps said he will travel there for an interview with the city’s mayor and council members next Wednesday, the latest step in a four-month selection process.
He told The News Tribune that he’s been looking to the greater Phoenix area for potential career opportunities, and the Glendale job seemed like a good fit for him.
“It’s almost like home away from home,” he said of the city that hosted Super Bowl 49 in February. Phelps, who has served as the county’s deputy executive since 2009, said he has family in the Phoenix area where he’s traveled regularly for 30 years.
“I’ve kept my eye open the last couple years,” he said. “This is the first position I’m really 100 percent excited about.”
Phelps said his private-sector experience producing trade shows and other major events, as well as his involvement with the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, make him a good fit in Glendale.
“It’s a great sports and special events town,” Phelps said.
The deputy executive first made contact with a recruiter in April. He noted that McCarthy has known about his interest in the new job and remains supportive.
McCarthy told The News Tribune in a statement Thursday that Phelps has been integral in her office.
“His hard work and leadership have helped make Pierce County a more livable community,” McCarthy said. “If he is selected for the Glendale position, he will be missed.”
While he’s excited about the new job, Phelps said he won’t be disappointed if he stays in Pierce County.
“I’m in a no-lose position,” Phelps said. “We’ve got a lot of great things that are going on that we continue to work on.”
In addition to the interview, Phelps said he and the other candidates will attend a reception with community members.
Other job candidates include:
▪ John Pombier, city manager in Mesa, Arizona;
▪ David Garcia, city manager in Coachella, California;
▪ Susan Thorpe, who served as a city manager in Peoria, Arizona and assistant city manager in Corpus Christi, Texas;
▪ Craig Malin, a city administrator in Davenport, Iowa for 14 years.
They seek to replace Brenda Fischer, who resigned in February after 19 months on the job.
Phelps said it’s unclear when he would leave Pierce County if he is selected for the city manager position. The county executive would appoint his replacement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.