After a rocky couple of years at the Town of Parker, a new mayor and council has voted to hire a fresh face from outside as Town Manager, a St. George native called Ed Dickie.
Photo by Angela Gervasi, Nogales International
Dickie will be starting May 8th after being approved by the Council on Tuesday. He recently spent around a year as the City Manager for Nogales, Arizona after being in Dewey-Humboldt as Manager before that. In Parker, the contract of the last full-time Town Manager, Lori Wedemeyer, was ended last year after a period on paid administrative leave.
Parker Live caught up with Dickie to find out a little more about him, and to ask how he’s approaching the job.
Did you know anything about Parker before this?
Just a little bit, I knew it was on the river, quiet but can get a little exciting in the summer with the river! I had driven through before on my way north.
You’re from St. George area?
Yes. My wife, my parents, daughter with my two grandchildren are there, and I wanted to stay in Arizona, and in [my current] retirement system, be fairly close to St. George and work in a small town, so I was quite excited when the opportunity became available. I’m hoping to make it a fairly long-term situation.
How did it go in Nogales? You weren’t there too long?
It went well but when this came up, I couldn’t pass on it. I liked Nogales, I bought a home there, I was planning on staying a while but I got married (laughs), and she can’t live more than a certain distance from St. George, and Nogales is a 9 hour drive, now it’s a 4 hour drive.
That makes a lot of sense. Mayor Hartless has mentioned being excited to work with you; he was a big critic of what he saw as entrenched interests and the tendency of personal relationships to get in the way of what’s good for the citizens. I’m curious if you have any philosophies or ideas about how the relationship between the Town Manager and the council ideally works?
Yeah, it’s a perfect situation, I think, for the Town and myself. There’s no preconceptions, and I don’t like to go in and try to find out everything, I’d like to develop those relationships myself. Being from outside, I won’t have any self-interest, I know my job, which is to handle the day-to-day operations of the Town, and working with the mayor and council to get them the most accurate information I can and make recommendations and then they make those decisions. I have a lot of experience, you know, working with staff, building teams, organization, just getting everybody to kind of feel good about their job, have pride in it and try to provide the best service possible to the residents, look at the best ways to provide that service, and just do that, be there.
Parker is a small town but it’s the county seat, you could walk to the County building from Town hall, and the CRIT tribal government is also right there. So it’s a mix of jurisdictions. Do you have thoughts about working with the other government entities around?
I think you need to. I’ve worked on many partnerships with cities, police, fire, court, I like to look at partnerships when working. You’ve got to do what you can for the community. Again, there’s no preconceptions going in, I would just start with, ‘Hey I’m Ed, what can we do to help each other?’ I think what we do as partners would benefit La Paz County and the Tribe. I just want them to know, we’re here, if there’s an endeavor you’re looking at, let’s talk about it!
Is there anything that distinguishes you in the way you like to do this job?
I think what I bring to the table is communication, creating strong and high-performing teams; I like people to be successful. I’d like to meet with each council member and find out what they want from the city, I’m very goal-oriented, I like to have my employees set goals that are attainable and meet for evaluations. To answer the question, I just really like people to be successful in serving the public, it’s not about us, it’s the people, and that’s what it really comes down to.
The big change for Parker is that this is a very deliberate decision to hire someone from outside the community, rather than a home-grown Town Manager.
I understand the pros and cons, hiring from within the community, you just risk the chance that they’ve sort of got their minds made up about certain people, how things are done, but at the same time they can bring some good insight because they know the community. There’s pluses and minuses. The plus coming in from outside, I can focus on the job, I can focus on making us a strong-performing team, everybody has a fresh slate with me.
Are you a boat guy, any interest in the river at all?
I do, I love to fish, I may end up getting a little fishing boat or just a little putt-around boat that I can use with the kids, I think eventually I’ll do that. But meantime, do some fishing, and hiking around exploring the area a bit, that kind of thing. I’m looking forward to being there!