Q&A: City Manager Josh Wright talks about his position, experience and hopes for Chandler

Chandler City Manager Josh Wright talks about his experience and goals for Chandler. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler City Manager Josh Wright talks about his experience and goals for Chandler. (Community Impact Newspaper)

Chandler City Manager Josh Wright talks about his experience and goals for Chandler. (Community Impact Newspaper)

Chandler City Council will officially appoint acting City Manager Josh Wright to the position of city manager at a meeting in August, according to a news release from the city.

What does a city manager do, and why are they important in a city?

The city manager is the chief administrative officer and oversees day-to-day operations for the city of Chandler. Chandler’s city manager is one of four positions appointed by the City Council and ensures that the laws and resolutions adopted by the City Council are implemented. One of the tasks of a city manager is to submit an annual budget and capital improvement program to the City Council and keep the City Council informed regarding the financial condition and future needs of the city.

Elaborate on your education and past experience.

I am a career public servant, and my entire career has been spent working in and managing high-growth Arizona cities. I joined Chandler in 2017 as assistant city manager and have also taken on interim roles as the Chandler Airport manager and director of departments that provide building inspection, development permits, engineering, planning and transportation-related services in Chandler.


Prior to that, I served as town manager of Wickenburg for five years. During that time, we completed the town’s first strategic plan and first voter-approved general plan and updated the airport master plan. I also oversaw many important technology projects for the town. One of my proudest achievements there is improving the town’s financial condition, including doubling the general fund reserve balance and reducing the debt repayment schedule for the town’s wastewater plant expansion from 30 years to five years.

I also worked five years at the Town of Marana as an assistant to the town manager and director of strategic initiatives. I served in interim roles as the economic development administrator and building official, including serving as the project manager for an award-winning economic development strategic plan.

I have a long history in the East Valley. I attended Kyrene schools in Tempe and New Vistas Academy in Chandler before eventually graduating from Phoenix Country Day School in Paradise Valley. I am a proud graduate of The University of Arizona with a master’s degree in public administration and Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and religious studies. I am currently working on a doctoral degree in public administration from Valdosta State University in Georgia.

What are some of your goals for the city this year?

Implementation of the shared vision set forth in the City Council’s 2021-2023 Strategic Framework and its key focus areas of economic vitality, innovative and technology, mobility, neighborhoods and quality of life.

Maintain the fiscal discipline and careful planning that have made Chandler successful while working on ways to implement initiatives that provide an exceptional quality of life for Chandler residents and prosperity for Chandler businesses. The outcome of the upcoming bond election also will be critical to providing funding for major projects outlined in the city’s capital improvement program.

2020 was a difficult year for many in our community, and the employees at the city of Chandler continued to deliver services and persevere through extraordinary circumstances. Many of our longtime employees hired during the high-growth periods of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s are or will be retiring from the city. We are working creatively to attract the best candidates and grow our own talent to fill critical vacancies in the city. We need to return to the pre-pandemic customer-focused, innovative and fun internal service culture for which our organization is known.

Public safety is essential to the quality of life in Chandler. The nature of crime and emergency medical services continues to evolve. We’re fortunate to have two accredited public safety departments that are models in their professions. We will continue to develop strategic partnerships, examine workloads and resources, and make data-driven decisions about investments and resources while being cognizant of fiscal constraints.

The success of Chandler is dependent on more than the city government, and I will work in this role to build partnerships with major employers and developers, Chandler businesses, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, nonprofits serving Chandler, school districts, neighboring cities and towns, utilities and other organizations.

Are there any initiatives or programs that you'd like to highlight/talk about?

I was appointed Chandler’s acting city manager in March 2021 and worked with the City Council and department directors to steer the development of this year’s annual budget and capital improvement program. I’ve participated in the budget development process the previous four years and this year’s budget incorporates projects and spending that were deferred during 2020 as well as outlines the use of several federal grants toward community programs.

The City Council adopted a budget this year that addresses a number of safety priorities in the community and needs for police staffing. The use of federal grants, incentives and recruitment practices will provide a bridge to fund police positions and attract the best candidates to fill vacancies in the department.

City of Chandler employees are outstanding people. They are smart, think innovatively, are motivated to do more with existing resources, and care tremendously about the community. Our departments work extremely well together to ensure coordination on issues such as emergency response, planning and infrastructure, managing parks and transportation, and preserving neighborhoods and employment corridors. Providing timely, accurate information in various formats—both internally and externally—as well as exploring new technology platforms and meeting residents’ communication expectations are also important focuses for the city.

Chandler has long been known as a city that achieves when it comes to economic development and job creation. Shortly after becoming acting city manager earlier this year, Intel announced the largest private investment in Arizona history, including two new fabrication facilities and an estimated 3,000 jobs. It will be exciting to see that project take shape in the coming months. Similarly, the most successful cities connect the types of housing they pursue with economic development and the needs of key employers. Chandler has a designated high-performing public housing authority that manages more than 300 units, many of which were built more than 50 years ago. We are working on a public-private partnership to expand our affordable housing stock while avoiding unsustainable maintenance costs.

Anything else you'd like residents to know about you/your role/the city of Chandler?

My parents’ first home was here in Chandler near Elliot and Price roads. During my lifetime, I’ve watched Chandler grow from its agricultural roots into the Valley’s epicenter of technology, innovation, multiculturalism and stability.

I am a Chandler resident, and one of the reasons my wife and I chose to live in Chandler was to raise a family in a diverse environment where our children could engage with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultures and belief systems. I also have served on the board of directors for the East Valley Jewish Community Center in Chandler since 2018.


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