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Posted on: May 23, 2019

Q&A with City Manager Chris Hazeltine

Chris Hazeltine photo

How much did you know about Poway before you started this journey and what interested you most about the opportunity to apply for city manager?

I’ve lived in San Diego County since I was three years old and I’ve worked in local government for more than 30 years, so I knew a lot about Poway. But the more I learned, the more impressed I became. The city has a great reputation, exceptional leadership in its city council, a talented and dedicated city staff, and a friendly and caring community. And although I’ve only been here a short time, I can honestly say that all the positive opinions I developed before I walked in the door have been validated.  

What interested you the most about this opportunity to apply for city manager? Was there a moment that you knew this might be a good fit and why?

As the director of parks and recreation in Carlsbad, I oversaw a $28 million annual operating budget and a $40 million capital improvement projects budget for my department. With 56 full-time and 300 part-time staff members, I managed the department as if it was its own small city.

Most of my career has been in parks and recreation – it’s a field I’m very passionate about. But even more so I’m passionate about public service. When I read Poway’s announcement for city manager I immediately asked myself “are they looking for me?” The qualifications the city was looking for described my experience perfectly. The description of how the city operated aligned with the model for how I believe a city should be run. As I heard more from the recruiter and then the councilmembers about what they were looking for, the more I knew this was the position for me.

Tell us about a key milestone you achieved in your former role that will help you here as city manager?

While at Carlsbad I was involved with the several high-profile capital improvement projects including the construction of a new community center and park, improved beach access, and renovations at the historic Leo Carrillo Ranch that enhanced the park as educational and recreational resource. As Poway heads toward our 40th anniversary as a city, we’re undertaking more significant capital improvement projects than ever. And although our projects may be on a different scale or nature, they share the same goal of enriching this community. 

What have you been doing to get up to speed on key projects and issues facing our city? What are the next steps as you settle into this position?

It’s probably no surprise that much of my time has been spent in meetings. Right now, I’m focused on learning – both about what we’re currently doing as a city and what’s on the horizon. I’m asking a lot of questions and I probably will be in this mode for a while. But while I’m learning the ropes there’s still a business to run. Our staff continues to move forward on their work plans and serve our community for the benefit of our residents.

Tell us a little bit about your family and your favorite things to do when you’re not working.

My wife and I have three kids, ages 17, 19 and 20. My family is very close and so it goes with saying that any time I have away from work I like spending with my family. We live in the Tierrasanta community of San Diego, so you’ll often find me hiking with my dogs in the Mission Trails Regional Park. I like to golf, but my favorite sport is basketball. No matter how busy things get, I do my best to keep Thursday nights open for a long-standing basketball game at our local courts.

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