Phoenix City Council was expected today, Sept. 8, to officially hire Assistant City Manager Jeff Barton as the new city manager, replacing the retiring Ed Zuercher.

And while that move likely will go through without a hitch, some fireworks might occur if Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia pushes for the firing of police officers who arrested protestors last October and conspired with a now-suspended county prosecutor to charge them as street gangsters.

Garcia indicated in a radio interview last week that the officers should be fired, noting the distress and financial harm they inflicted on individuals by violating their constitutional rights and exposing them potentially to the harsh punishment carried by anti-street gang laws.

Documents filed with City Council show Barton will be hired at an annual salary of $370,000. His contract also ensures that he will get his current job back if for some reason he should be removed from the city manager’s post at a future date.

Barton will lead the country’s largest council-manager form of local government and oversee day-to-day operations including responsibility for nearly 15,000 employees who serve 1.7 million residents.

“It is wonderful to have an internal candidate who not only has the skills, but also has the passion for the important work we’ve undertaken as the nation’s fifth largest and fastest growing city,” said Mayor Kate Gallego. 

“Jeff has spent years learning the city from the inside out. He has been a critical factor in decisions regarding the budget and community investment, and in developing strategy for deploying federal COVID relief dollars during the pandemic and beyond.”

Gallego also said Barton shares her “drive to innovate and find creative, new ways to deliver a powerful experience for everyone who chooses to call Phoenix home.”

A Pennsylvania native, Barton moved to Arizona in 1999 where he became an auditor of city departments and programs. 

That experience propelled his more than two-decade long career with the city, including roles as city manager, budget & research director, deputy city manager and most recently assistant city manager.

Barton helped lead the city through the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and served as staff director of the city’s $293 million Coronavirus Relief Fund Strategic Plan that provided residents and local businesses with vital resources needed to navigate the pandemic.

As budget director he was responsible for planning, forecasting, and managing the city’s $4.4 billion operating budget and $7 billion five-year capital improvement program. 

During Barton’s tenure, the department implemented a new five-year forecasting and modeling of expenses and revenues process to better plan for future funding needs, while providing early forecasts of potential budgetary challenges.

As part of the city’s executive leadership team, he has overseen a wide variety of city departments including Police, Fire, Community and Economic Development, as well as the Phoenix Public Library and the Youth & Education Office.

Barton holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College and a master of public administration from Shippensburg University. He will move into the new role when Zuercher retires Oct. 8. 

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