By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia
Jeff Tyne is digging in as Peoria’s new city manager.
The former deputy city manager said he is fortunate to live in a growing community that offers a variety of cultures, amenities, and opportunities. It is a place he calls home with his family and a place he has helped foster for nearly 20 years of government service.
And now he has taken the helm of the city’s highest non-elected position, after the retirement of long-time city manager Carl Swenson. Mr. Tyne said Mr. Swenson made the city what it is today and has left Peoria in good hands.
“With a service-oriented city government, strong school system, and favorable business environment, I think the potential of this ever-changing community is sky high,” Mr. Tyne said.
Learn a little bit about where he came from and where his is going.
Mr. Tyne shared his thoughts with Peoria Today about the future of the city and how he plans to guide it through its next stages of growth.
Question: Where did you grow up?
Answer: I grew up in southern California at a time when it was experiencing its own wave of population growth. While attending Arizona State University, I was really taken by the openness, lifestyle, and culture of the desert southwest. This ultimately led me to Peoria, where I’ve worked for almost 20 years, and where my family and I are proud to call home.
Q: At what point did you see government service as the right career for you?
A: There were several moments of truth. I grew up in a household where civic issues were constantly discussed at the dinner table. I migrated to public affairs in school, and did internships at the federal and state levels. I still remember vividly an impromptu meeting with Dick Bowers (then city manager of Scottsdale), who brought home the real sense of personal value that comes with helping your local community. He simply showed how every decision he made that day will affect the people around him.
Q: From a managerial perspective, what is one thing you have learned while working at Peoria?
A: I guess if it was one thing, it would be to engage the people around you. Through the efforts of many, we have developed a city staff that is intensely committed, experienced and professional. It is vitally important that we tap into their expertise, relate well with each other, and direct our enthusiasm to the most important goals.
Q: What strengths can you bring to the table as a city manager?
A: It’s safe to say I bring enthusiasm to this job. I can’t wait to take steps that build relationships with our partners, energize our employees, and engage our residents.
Q: How would you characterize your managerial style? Are there similarities or differences compared with Mr. Swenson?
A: Carl Swenson was an amazing leader and role model, so I often aspire to take on some of his leadership and management traits. I would like to focus my management style to being an active listener, adaptive in nature, relationship-focused, and empathetic.
Q: What are one or two things you will focus on in your first year as city manager?
A: Being in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city, I am most focused on re-introducing myself to this amazing staff. I have already enjoyed learning how our staff make a difference, and how I can best support them going forward. Next, I am focused on helping to achieve the strategic goals of our City Council. I have begun a process of working with council members to tour all reaches of this city, to better learn how to truly make our vision a reality.
Q: With the failure of last year’s sales-tax hike in the November election that would have brought $146 million in public improvements to the city, how do you plan to address growth in the city, especially because growth doesn’t pay for itself like it used to.
A: Growth management remains a high priority for City Council and city leadership, and we remain committed to growing as thoughtfully as possible into the future. Commercial and residential growth is a complex, multi-faceted issue. It’s important to note that addressing growth involves many stakeholders. Going forward we will need to build on relationships with developers, partner governments, community groups, the business community and others to develop strategies that work specifically for Peoria. Also, it is important to raise the citizen awareness of the effects of growth, both good and bad. That’s why I encourage residents to get involved in the public General Plan processes being undertaken right now by Peoria planning staff.
Q: What do you see as one or two challenges with the city moving forward?
A: As we grow as a city, we also are maturing as a community. It’s important that we remain mindful of what made Peoria an amazing destination, and that we keep a close eye on preserving the aging areas of the city. That is why I hope we can find ways to bring the city closer to our residents. By taking a more localized, neighborhood-centric approach to issues, we can personalize residents’ experience with their city government. Concepts like community-oriented policing, small business development programs, citywide special events, and other area-specific activities will help position the city government to success going forward.