Tempe hires new city manager
The Tempe City Council voted 7-0 on April 18 to make interim city manager Andrew Ching's position permanent.
Ching became the interim city manager on Feb. 7, only 10 days after the council’s 5-2 vote to fire former Tempe city manager Charlie Meyer.
Ching said neither he nor the city council anticipated the permanent position. He said he agreed to work as a temporary city manager until someone else was chosen, at which point he planned to return to the City Attorney's Office.
“I wasn't expecting it at all,” he said. “Several people applied, and at the end of the reviews of those applications, they asked me if I wanted the position, and I said, 'Yes'”
Councilman Joel Navarro said the council did not necessarily expect Ching to take on the job permanently, so in March the council had continued to look locally and nationally for qualified individuals to fill the position.
“I kind of thought Andrew would be great, though,” Navarro said. “What he had to offer was pretty attractive for a progressive city like Tempe.”
Ching has been a Tempe resident since he was 5 years old.
He earned his Bachelor's degree from UA in 1991 and received a law degree from ASU in 1994.
He began working for the City Attorney's Office in 1992 as a volunteer and became a law clerk the following year.
Ching took a break from the City Attorney's Office from 1996 to 1998 and worked as a prosecutor for a private law firm in the city of Mesa. He was named Prosecutor of the Year in 1997.
Ching returned to Tempe in 1998 and worked as the Senior Assistant City Attorney for Tempe from 2004 to 2005. In 2005, he went to work as an associate at the Phoenix firm Moyes Storey.
“He's been around the city for so long that it was not hard for him to get things going,” Navarro said. “He knows Tempe in and out and he knows the issues.”
Councilman Kolby Granville said Ching's switch from the City Attorney's Office to Tempe city manager is beneficial for not only Ching but Tempe in general.
“He clearly knows how to be a city manager,” Granville said. “He realized this was a place where he could do a greater good.”
He said the council unanimously voted Ching as the new manager within a couple of minutes.
“He came in on a 7-0 vote, because every single council member felt comfortable with him as the new city manager,” Granville said. “He is just an outstanding manager of people ... and an outstanding manager of expectations.”
Ching said his experience in the Tempe City Attorney's Office and in various law firms has prepared him for his duties as city manager.
“(My previous positions have) helped me a lot,” Ching said. “I've worked closely with the city council and all different kinds of departments. I know the organization very well … and I've been a fairly constant presence here, which will help me improve as the city manager.”
Mayor Mark Mitchell said Ching was the best choice for the position and brings many good qualities to Tempe.
“His experience is there,” Mitchell said. “His family is very involved in the community. ... He understands the direction Tempe is going. ... He has a pretty good hold on what Tempe needs.”
Meyer was fired by the council on Jan. 28 for reasons expressed by the council that included lack of communication and issues with residential complaints.
Ching said he feels no pressure from the council or Tempe residents to address or fix the issues that arose from Meyer's term.
“The people I work for are fair-minded people,” he said. “That was a different situation, and I'm a different person. They'll judge me according to my actions.”
He said communication was a key concern for the council when it discussed Meyer's termination, but he said communication will not be an issue while he is the city manager.
“I could only judge my own communication style, and I try to give as much communication as possible,” Ching said. “I have a good relationship with the city council. … I never want communication to become an issue.”
Granville said the issues with Meyer are now something of the past and the council is eager to move forward with Ching as the new manager.
“There were certain issues that Charlie had that were individual issues,” he said. “They were person-to-person issues. And now that Charlie is not manager, those issues no longer exist.”
Ching said as he begins his first week as the permanent city manager, he plans to focus on getting the city budget approved by June and negotiating unions that represent most employees in Tempe by entering into new agreements with the city.
“I'm very much looking forward to getting to work and serve this organization,” he said. “I'm excited to continue to work and to help this community to keep going forward.”
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