Monday, December 17, 2018

Town Manager Jacobs Takes On The Challenge

Oro Valley Town Manager Mary Jacobs has a tough job
Jacobs has to bridge a philosophical sea change between the old and the new town council majority, councils with starkly different views of what they want for Oro Valley.

Jacobs has been town manager for a bit over a year. Yes. She was hired by the prior council. But that does not mean that she represents them. In our interview with her last week, she emphasized that she will do her best to implement the policies of whatever council is in place. (see panel quote).

Jacobs has lived in Oro Valley for more than a year. "All town managers should live in their community. Because you have to be a part of the community…" in order to experience what it is like. "You have to be invested. And I'm invested."

"I want to do the best job that I can." 
The challenge Jacobs faces in Oro Valley is that there are lot of varying, sometimes opposing positions for her to consider.

"Am I going to make decisions that people disagree with? Absolutely. But it won't be because I don't listen or I don't care. It’s because I had to consider everything."

Jacobs seeks community input 
Town Manager Jacobs leads citizen-focused forums. Recently, she led the forum on traffic control at La Canada and Moore Road. Tomorrow, she will attend the public forum on Oro Valley strategy to gather input about the community’s priorities for the new Town Council.

"I want people to know that I care about what they think," she observed. "It is important for the community to get to know who their town manager is. I don't want to be the person who never shows up; who isn't there."

In person contact with residents is important
"It's different when I have things reported to me than it is if I actually hear from people....I want people to feel like they have been heard. Everyone's opinion is valued. I believe in the ability to have healthy disagreements. Sometimes we will have to agree to disagree."

Oro Valley’s volunteer program is “amazing”
Jacobs appreciates the high level of volunteerism in our community. According to her, Oro Valley’s volunteers do “…remarkable things for the town." She pointed to the work of the CVAP (Community Volunteer Assistance Program) volunteers did on ‘Black Friday,’ patrolling Oro Valley’s shopping areas to enhance public safety. “We couldn’t do the level of service that we do without those volunteers.”

We seem to have enough volunteers at the moment with the exception of the Stormwater Utility Commission, according to Jacobs. “People need to be asked.” When they are asked, she observed, they respond. Together with the new council, she is exploring ways to increase community involvement.

"I really love that our town has something for everyone. It's a very friendly town. There is so much to do and it's really beautiful here.”
About Town Manager Jacobs
Jacobs was born and raised in Tucson. She attended Catalina High School. Mary received bachelor and masters degrees  from the University of Arizona. She interned for several public figures, including Mo Udall. She has held positions in town government in Barnstable MA and in Sierra Vista. Mary's daughter attends Layola University in Chicago and will be studying at their overseas campus in the near future. Jacobs parents and two siblings live in Tucson. You can read more about her here.