At the beginning of the search for a replacement for retiring County Manager Greg Stanley, county supervisors stated they wanted the new manager to come from within county government.
Louis Andersen, who was public works director for six years, took the helm Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Andersen is an Air Force veteran, earned an MBA from City University in Seattle and completed Kennedy School’s Senior Executive Management Program at Harvard University.
Andersen lists among his top contributions and accomplishments several of the county’s recent major road and bridge projects. He coordinated the Pinal Regional Transportation Plan.
Rose Law Group Reporter [RLGR] sent Andersen a list of questions, and these are his written answers:
[RLGR] Just curious, is Harvard elitist and full of policy wonks? What did you learn there?
Andersen: Leadership is difficult but very rewarding business. The first thing they stress is the need to listen and communicate! If there is a problem, you need to form a group that will work to understand all sides of the issue, know the limits you have and how far you can go without losing the battle on all fronts. A leader needs to understand the necessity to balance and get to know all sides of a situation or problem. You need to recognize and understand those who are not on your side of a particular initiative or situation.
It was a tremendous honor to be able to attend this course work, the classes were very diverse much like our county. The cohort consisted of leaders from all over the world both elected and appointed, learning from them was enlightening and fulfilling. I am honored to have been accepted and I thank the Board of Supervisors along with the Arizona County Insurance pool for sponsoring me.
What’s the first item you’re tackling today?
There is really no one item I am focusing on. I’m starting this job on with a multifaceted approach. I’m getting to know the other elected officials along with our great staff. I need to further understand how the departments serve the public and how they operate on a daily basis. This is looking at who they are from the front line to the Directors and Elected Officials.
Another project I am starting is to review our Planning Division and our One Stop Shop. This means I am looking at various scenarios to streamline our process of review and service delivery.
We are in the early stages of a Communications and Marketing review. Pinal County has a multitude of areas that are reporting on current events with social media, the news media along with internal and external customers. I am also working with a team to develop a consistent collaborated approach to the whole communications and marketing department.
Another goal for me early on is to look at our current market study on our total compensation package for employees. I think there is some finessing that needs to be done to make us more competitive in the workplace.
Pinal County is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Give us your assessment of the county’s infrastructure as it relates to growth in traffic, population, and industry.
The overall infrastructure is vibrant, in good condition, with ample power and gas services. However, we are lacking a major roadway network that would include an east-west connection from Maricopa to Florence and the North-South from Apache Junction to Eloy.
We will need to do a better job working with all stakeholders in regards to the water supply and conservation. This is an issue that is a very hot topic amongst our Supervisors and our Agriculture community. While there are no easy answers and simple solutions to this problem. I realize that it’s going to take a concerted effort from everyone from our local officials to Congress to mitigate any problems we could see in our near future.
We continue to move the needle forward on the flood control problem in several areas of the county. There are major studies currently underway. The challenge will be finding the necessary funding to construct the much needed infrastructure on the Lower Santa Cruz River and McClellan washes flowing from the south.
You reorganized the Public Works Department. Do you see a need to do the same with overall county government?
Yes, to some extent initially and continuously as we see opportunities to streamline our processes – I think Communications and Marketing Division will need to be revamped as well as our Planning and One Stop Shop.
What’s the key to managing citizen complaints?
The first thing you need to do is to respond quickly as possible, listen, then listen some more. Understanding what the cause of the issue is job one, and how we can help to resolve the issue. It is important to involve the areas that are impacted or have influences in the area of concern.
What’s the key to managing employees?
Share the vision, include them in decision making and planning. You need to listen and care about them as people first. Understand they have their lives and help them achieve success at work. I enjoy empowering the employees to make decisions and offer support and guidance when they need it. I want to be seen as approachable and available when they need to see me.