New Salt Lake City mayor ousts three department heads
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — After requiring all city department heads and mayoral staff to resign and reapply for their positions, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski has ousted three leaders.
Those include D.J. Baxter, executive director of the city's redevelopment agency; Debra Alexander, human resources director; and Bill Haight, director of information management services.
The three department directors served in their positions throughout the entirety of Mayor Ralph Becker's eight-year administration.
Biskupski's spokesman, Matthew Rojas, said the mayor has chosen to go in "a different direction" and is seeking individuals who match her "overall vision" of inclusiveness, transparency and day-to-day function of city management.
Last week, Biskupski announced she would be reappointing three department directors, while two others followed Becker out of office. That means Salt Lake City is getting at least five new department heads.
Remaining positions still under consideration include airport director, emergency management program director, public services director and 911 dispatch bureau director.
Taking Alexander's place will be Julio Garcia, Biskupski announced Wednesday.
Garcia worked as the director of elections for Salt Lake County for five years before he was named in 2010 as the associate director of human resources for the county.
"Garcia is a forward-thinking manager," Biskupski said in a prepared statement. "His experience in human resources has focused on employee learning, succession planning, performance management, and employee engagement. Our city employees must feel safe and supported by their managers, and those managers must have the skills to promote an environment of growth and opportunity. (Garcia) is the perfect person to help guide our city’s workforce agency in that direction.”
Baxter and Haight's replacements have yet to be appointed, Rojas said.
"We'll be engaging in a responsible, thorough search," he said, indicating that a national search will likely take place for Baxter's replacement.
City Councilwoman Lisa Adams said she's "disappointed" to see the three directors go, taking with them years of experience. Of the three, she said she worked with Baxter most closely.
Baxter played leading roles in numerous development projects in Salt Lake City, including the new Monument Plaza in Sugar House and the new George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater being built downtown.
"I feel like he's been able to navigate some tricky water within the city, and I am just really sorry to see him go," Adams said. "We're nine months out from the Eccles theater opening. Had I been making this choice, I would have left him in at least through that. But it is the mayor's prerogative."
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