New deputy city manager hails from sunny Arizona

City Manager Rich Conrad has hired a new assistant. James Mason, of Peoria, Ariz., will begin his new position as deputy city manager for Mercer Island on June 15.

Mason currently works as an assistant to the city manager of Peoria, a city of about 154,000 in the greater Phoenix area. Mason has already accepted the Mercer Island position and plans to move his family to the Eastside area in early June.

Conrad hired Mason after a three-month-long recruiting and interviewing process. The city manger said that Mason’s professionalism and personality stood out among other candidates.

“James’ easy-going manner, passion for public service and intelligence launched him to the top,” Conrad said in an e-mail to city colleagues. “He has extensive experience in major project development and planning, marketing strategies and coordination between municipal officials and community/business leaders.”

Mason began his position as deputy city manager for Peoria in 2006. His main responsibilities include managing day-to-day issues, participation in laboring relations and helping to manage the city’s $230 million operating budget and $340 million capital budget.

The deputy manager has also worked for the cities of Phoenix and Glendale.

The fact that Mason has experience in cities much larger than Mercer Island, Conrad said, also placed him above the competition, which included candidates from the Puget Sound area, as well as states across the country.

Asked about relocating to Mercer Island, Mason expressed enthusiasm.

“The biggest draw is that the area is known for good governance. Mercer Island is an action-oriented city. I’ve been really impressed with the city as an organization, the elected officials and the community,” he said.

Mason hopes to find a home on Mercer Island or in the Eastside. He will be moving with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. Mason’s son, who is 18, will stay behind in Arizona.

The entire family, Mason said, admires the Seattle area for its beauty.

“It’s pretty much as opposite as it gets from Arizona, but we’ve always been drawn to the area. The thing about folks from Puget Sound is that they have a real passion for their home. It’s not often that you come across that,” he said.

The position of deputy city manager opened up in December 2008, when Linda Herzog left the city for a job in Sequim. Herzog had been serving as interim deputy city manager since April 2008, when the city fired Londi Lindell from the post.

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