Updated January 7, 2021 at 10:43 a.m.
Marsha Reed, Chandler’s city manager since 2016, has announced her plan to retire March 4.
Matt Burdick, director of communications for the city, said Reed had spent the last few months preparing newly elected Chandler City Council members Christine Ellis and O.D. Harris for their jobs, getting them “up to speed with the city of Chandler, its departments and all the issues.”
“They were among the most-disappointed when she called them and informed them that she was going to be retiring,” Burdick said.
Some who were queried about Reed’s planned departure indicated surprise at the timing, just as councilmembers would be heavily involved in the coming year’s budget studies.
In an interview with Wrangler News, Reed said budget matters are largely wrapped up and will be completed by “the middle of March. The only thing I’ll miss is the all-day budget briefing.”
While government entities, such as Chandler, routinely conduct a national search for top-level-job replacements, consensus at City Hall appeared to be toward selecting an internal candidate, although no names have yet surfaced.
“The council has not had a meeting yet,” Reed said.
Prior to her current role, Reed served as an assistant city manager.
“I started working for the public sector when I was very young and I had 30 years in the public sector before I ever came to Chandler,” said Reed, 57. “When your reach my age, it’s time to retire and go do fun stuff. There’s nothing bigger about it than that.”
Looking back over her four-year tenure as city manager, Reed said that among her proudest achievements was establishment of the Downtown Quality of Life and Safety Committee. It meets monthly and includes city departments, Downtown Chandler Community Partnership and property owners. City departments involved include police, public works and utilities, neighborhood resources, community services and cultural development.
“It’s been very key to have that committee that constantly works to do things that we feel help the safety aspect of anyone in our downtown. It’s been all over the board—everything from homelessness to graffiti on buildings, and that committee tackles it all.”
Reed also spoke of ways the city endeavored in recent years to increase safety downtown, “everything from the installation of different lights for pedestrians and trying to create that environment that’s more pedestrian friendly.”
Burdick pointed to the public art in the downtown area that he says has helped decrease graffiti, another urban scourge the safety committee has fought.
“One of the things that we’ve seen and that law enforcement has seen is that graffiti artists tend to respect other artists. So you go down Commonwealth or you go down the breezeway, Chop Shop and some of the businesses having that mural and having some of that public art not only activating that space for pedestrians, it’s also a mitigation measure to help prevent graffiti.”
Serving as city manager during the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges, but Reed said when the crisis began the city “immediately went into emergency mode” and that by the time the shutdown ended she had already instructed city officials to create a plan for reopening.
“Chandler was the first one to come out in front of their council with the plan to open, because I knew opening back up was going to be twice as hard as shutting down,” she said. “And in order to do that, we had to have those plans in place.”
As she prepares to retire, Reed said she’s proud of the work the city has accomplished.
“The city staff has done just a phenomenal job and basically going above and beyond my expectation in delivery of everything we do. I cannot think of anything where I wish we hadn’t done that or wish it would have been better.”