Mike Mathews, former public safety director, is now deputy city manager due to a restructuring at Roswell City Hall.
In the last five years, Mathews worked at the city as a special services administrator, director of special services and director of public safety. For Mathews’ former position, City Manager Joe Neeb said the police and fire chiefs will report through the city manager and deputy city manager.
Mathews said he is excited to take another step in his career with the city. He started as a recruit firefighter and has worked at the city for the past 33 years. He said his productivity was noticed so he was asked to take on more responsibilities.
Mathews has been in his new position and new office at City Hall for roughly three weeks and was introduced at the Roswell City Council’s March 14 meeting with his new title.
“I’ve known Mike Mathews for 20 years, as he was a lieutenant at the fire department when I started my career,” Roswell Fire Department Chief Devin Graham said. “Mike’s dedication and willingness to work hard for the residents and employees of the city of Roswell is second to none. Because of his work ethic and character, it came as no shock to me when I heard that he was being promoted to the deputy city manager position.”
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Neeb said city staff is going through supervisor and manager training for all personnel, to be aligned with the “vision of the city.” Neeb said organizational changes began at the end of last year, after a vetting process and many conversations before implementing any changes. He said the format of the process changed after the new year and has been evolving since.
“I’m excited about it,” Mathews said. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m grateful that I live in Roswell — my family’s here, my grandkids are here … Joe (Neeb) brings a passion to the job and I’m looking forward to that, with the council that we have and management, we have at the city making our community better.
“And that’s what we do every day is try to look into the future and say what can we do to make it a better place for people to raise their families, and send their kids to schools, and do their shopping and just live life — and hopefully we’re doing that.”
The city’s top three positions are as follows: city manager, deputy city manager and city attorney. The city manager and attorney are contracted positions. Mathews said he is a regular full-time employee. If Neeb is unavailable, Mathews will act as city manager and has other daily duties. Neeb said Mathews’ personality and outlook on management are close to his own as they are leaders in a service role making sure their directors have the needed resources for their jobs. There are 24 departments listed on the city’s organizational chart.
“One of the things that we have been trying to do is push down hard on the top tier of the city and trying to reduce the number of people in charge, for lack of a better term, because we have a number of departments out there that have highly qualified professionals to run those departments,” Neeb said. “So we don’t have that extra layer of supervision — or I don’t believe we need that extra layer of supervision in order to help get their jobs done …”
Need said the city will be looking to replace the director of administrative services since Elizabeth Gilbert left. According to the Roswell Museum and Art Center Board of Trustees agenda, Gilbert accepted a Human Resources director position at Virginia Commonwealth University and her last day was Feb. 20.
“Mike Mathews, his long history with the city, his belief system within the management and leadership roles and his personality all blend to a very stable relationship with all of these directors,” Neeb said.
Roswell Police Chief Phil Smith said Mathews was “absolutely deserving of the promotion” and “a consummate professional, an exceptional man and gentleman.”
“Mike Mathews is very strong in handling relationships as any real leader must,” Smith said. “For three decades of public service, he has walked the walk — a loyal constituent to his community and the city manager, yet a strong leader, a brilliant tactician and a fair and consistent representation of the leadership here in the city of Roswell.”
Mathews said he appreciated Neeb’s confidence in him when he was approached for the job. He added that it was a compliment to be chosen because Neeb had “a lot of good people to choose from” in the city.
When problems arise, Mathews said he and Neeb will be equally available to the public and various city departments, while constantly communicating.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Mathews said. “We’ll see, and like I told Joe (Neeb), as long as I’m able to help him and move our city forward, I want to do that. Any time — if it is not working out or if he needs to make another change, I’m open to that, too. I’m for what’s best for the city.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at email@example.com.