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City manager says farewell to Peoria, heads into retirement after 35 years of government service

Posted 6/28/17

By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia

Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat, right, reads a proclamation from the city for retiring City Manager Carl Swenson at a recent city council meeting. Mr. Swenson …

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City manager says farewell to Peoria, heads into retirement after 35 years of government service

Posted
By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia

Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat, right, reads a proclamation from the city for retiring City Manager Carl Swenson at a recent city council meeting. Mr. Swenson spent 35 years working in government roles.
Outgoing City Manager Carl Swenson received a standing ovation at his final City Council meeting on June 13.

After accepting a proclamation from the city and a brick that will be installed in the Decades Walk at Centennial Park Plaza, Mr. Swenson, visibly moved, said he was “pretty speechless.”

But he found his voice to thank the staff, mayor and council for ushering in the culmination of his career.

“It has been the honor of my professional life to serve Peoria,” he said. “This is a great council that works well together and supports the staff. In the council-manager form of government, no professional staff and employees exemplify that form of government more than Peoria, and this includes the leadership of the mayor and council. It has been a real honor.”

After 35 years of government service, Mr. Swenson’s last day will be July 5.

Mayor Cathy Carlat said he will be missed.

“Carl Swenson is leaving us in a very strong financial situation and with a succession plan that allowed us to find a replacement for him internally,” she said. “He has been an outstanding leader and significant contributer to this community and region. He leaves the citizens and the city enriched.”

Mr. Swenson responded to questions from Peoria Today.

Question: Do you plan on staying in Arizona for retirement?

Answer: I grew up in the Puget Sound area and will live there after retirement.

Q: Under your leadership, you worked with the mayor, city council and leadership staff to complete a number of projects and initiatives in Peoria, including Pioneer Community Park, Peoria Performing Center for the Arts, Sunrise Mountain Library, the remodeling of the Peoria Court House and Peoria Community Center, as well as upgrades to the Peoria Sports Complex and branding improvements to the P83 Entertainment District. What do you feel are one or two major accomplishments during your time in Peoria?

A: Two accomplishments I am proud of are helping lead Peoria through the economic downturn and creating new and sealing long-term agreements with the Mariners and Padres. Another thing I’m most proud of is hiring and retaining outstanding staff throughout the organization who are committed to providing excellent customer service with great value for the taxpayer.

Q: Is there anything you would have liked to work on more?

A: I leave the city in great hands, with great elected leaders and great staff. I have worked with an outstanding group of employees that deliver great value to all citizens of the city, and I’m very proud of that. It makes me glad to know that I’m leaving knowing I have done the best I could.

Q: Former Deputy City Manager Jeff Tyne takes over for you. Do you have any advice for the incoming city manager?

A: Jeff is a great manager and will do an excellent job.

Q: What are one of the challenges facing the city in the future?

A: The state Legislature has severely restricted the ability of cities to collect impact fees from private developers to adequately fund the community parks, open space, trails, and libraries, needed to serve the new residents. Peoria is losing roughly $7 million each year to fund the facilities needed to deliver key services. So finding ways to continue to provide excellent service as the state Legislature continues to reduce city revenue will certainly be a challenge.

Q: Do you have any big plans for retirement?

A: Travel and enjoy the outdoors.