/ Modified jul 18, 2014 8:01 p.m.

METRO WEEK: City Manager Miranda Leaves a Stable Admin

Tucson continues to search for successor, candidate specifics still being defined.


Tucson is conducting a national search to replace retiring City Manager Richard Miranda, but already there are distinctions from past searches.

Martha Durkin portrait Interim Tucson City Manager Martha Durkin

The interim manager, Martha Durkin, will not be eligible to apply for the permanent position, because councilmembers said such a restriction would foster competitiveness among applicants. Their logic is without the stipulation, other good candidates may assume the interim manager is in line for the job, and refrain from applying.

The Tucson City Council is making these decisions because Miranda is retiring at the end of the month, capping a 39-year career as a Tucson employee.

He began as a police officer in 1975, and worked his way up through the ranks, eventually becoming police chief for a decade.

During his tenure as chief, the Tucson Police Department grew from 960 officers to more than 1,500, according to the city's website.

He retired from that position in 2008 and took an assistant city manager position under then-manager Mike Letcher.

Richard Miranda portrait 053113 Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda (PHOTO: azpm)

When Letcher was fired in 2011, Miranda was promoted to interim city manager, and then was hired for the permanent position later that year.

Miranda's permanent successor will be the 10th city manager of Tucson in the last decade, but he said that does not indicate instability in city leadership.

The realities of the job are different than they were for managers who had longer tenures in the past, Miranda said, comparing himself to Joel Valdez. Long-hailed as a good city manager, Valdez ran the city for 14 years in the 1970s and '80s.

That's not realistic anymore because of the constant pressure on managers now, Miranda said.

"When Joel was manager there weren’t cell phones. There weren’t emails. There weren’t text messages. There weren’t social media, and that kind of pressure wasn’t there. The pressure on us as city managers, the pressure on my staff is really 24/7 so to get three to five years out of a manager, I think you have stability," Miranda said.

Miranda said he took the top Tucson job at a time when he needed to build trust and confidence between the public and the city.

“I think that if you look around to good city managers, they know what their goals are, they know what their objectives are and they go out and achieve them through their people. I think we’ve done that here," he said.

In his resignation letter, Miranda said he intends to spend more time with his family. In an interview, he said the time is right for him to leave, but left the door open to pursue other work.

“I’ve been here for about 40 years and I think it’s time to see what’s outside the city of Tucson," he said.

Tucson City Managers 2004-present:
Jim Keane
Mike Hein
Mike Letcher
Richard Miranda, retiring July 31

During the journalists roundtable, the conversation included a murder-suicide in Green Valley. Find links to suicide prevention resources and other stories on this topic on our Confronting Suicide series.

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