Matthew Williams was working toward bachelor’s degrees in history and political science at North Georgia College when he decided to pursue a career in city management, but his passion for municipal service was stoked much earlier.
As a child, Litchfield Park’s new city manager often accompanied his grandfather to the city hall in his hometown in Georgia.
“I’ve always enjoyed government and politics,”
Mr. Williams said during a recent interview in his office at Litchfield Park City Hall.
Making the rounds with his grandfather taught him that establishing and nurturing relationships with those you serve and those you lead is key.
“That’s how you get things done,” he said. “It’s amazing what you can get done just by asking.”
When he graduated college in 2007, Mr. Williams attended Auburn University, earning a master’s degree in public administration in 2011.
After three years serving as economic development director for the city of LaFayette, Georgia, Mr. Williams and his wife, Laura, headed to Arizona, where he served as community services manager for the city of Pinetop-Lakeside in Navajo County for two years before being named town manager of Huachuca City in Cochise County.
He joined Litchfield Park’s city staff in December 2019 as assistant city manager/community services director.
After City Manager Bill Stephens announced his retirement last fall, the council tapped Mr. Williams to take over as interim city manager beginning Jan. 4 while it decided how it wanted to fill the position.
It took less than two months for the Litchfield Park City Council to decide to drop the “interim” from
his title and appoint the 37-year-old to the position permanently.
That surprised Mr. Williams, who said he didn’t expect his trial period at the helm of city’s 54-member staff to result in a permanent appointment so quickly.
But it was no surprise to council members, who have watched Mr. Williams in
action since he joined the staff, and knew well his reputation as someone who gets things done.
“He’s an impressive young man,” Mayor Thomas L. Schoaf said during a telephone interview. “When our prior city manager, Bill, was here, he went through a tremendous vetting process to find and hire Matthew. We were very fortunate to hire him.”
Before coming to Litchfield Park, Mr. Williams served as town manager of Huachuca City in Cochise County, where he was credited with helping the town avoid bankruptcy, according to articles in the Sierra Vista Herald Review.
“It wasn’t easy,” Mr. Williams recalled. “I was told on day four they were four months from bankruptcy.”
To avert the financial crisis, he implemented a series of immediate changes, including raising water and sewer rates by 57% and 81% respectively.
That kind of drive resonated with the mayor and council.
“He demonstrated tremendous leadership amongst city staff,” Mayor Schoaf said. “He understands who we are, why our residents live in Litchfield Park. I think he’s got all the tools to guide us.”
“I’m very happy that council had the confidence in me,” Mr. Williams said, returning the compliment. “We’re very lucky to have the council we have here. They’re very knowledgeable.”
Mr. Williams said he and wife, Laura, are looking forward to purchasing a home and moving from Waddell to Litchfield Park with their 18-month-old son, Jack.
“I love the idea that my son will be a half-mile down the street,” he said, calling Litchfield Park “one of the best cities in the state.”
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-963-1697.