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In her first major appointment, Salt Lake City Mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski on Friday named veteran Salt Lake County administrator Patrick Leary as her chief of staff.
Leary, who is currently the Salt Lake County township executive, will continue to play a pivotal role in the transition leading to the Jan. 4, 2016, inauguration, according to a statement from Biskupski.
The chief of staff is an essential position, guiding the day-to-day operations of Salt Lake City. The position is arguably the second most powerful in the municipality. Leary will take the post occupied by David Everitt, chief of staff for outgoing two-term Mayor Ralph Becker.
"Patrick's more than 20 years of experience in public administration, his wealth of knowledge in local government, deep commitment to accessible and transparent government, combined with our shared belief that public service is a calling that requires a high degree of professionalism and humility, make him the perfect fit for the role of chief of staff in my administration," Biskupski's statement said. "I have known Patrick both professionally and personally, and know he will bring a high level of competence and professionalism, along with an understanding that the needs of the people and a desire to humbly serve them must always be at the core of every decision we make."
Leary has worked in various county administrations, such as the office of the district attorney and the Salt Lake County clerk's office. He served as associate director for administrative services and as the director of public works.
In January 2013, County Mayor Ben McAdams appointed Leary as the first township executive, responsible for providing municipal services to the 160,000 residents living in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Longtime County Councilman Jim Bradley said Leary is a good choice for several reasons.
"She needs to have people around her whom she knows and have a sense of loyalty toward her," he said. "She has been in the trenches with him in the past."
Bradley noted that moving into a new government is never easy.
"I think he will be a good addition to the city structure," Bradley said. "He's hard working and very bright."
Leary is a good facilitator, said Nancy Carlson-Gotts, a member of the East Millcreek Community Council.
Carlson-Gotts got to know Leary during the runup to the creation of the Millcreek Township.
"I think this is a great opportunity for Patrick," she said. "I know he will do a good job. He's very efficient."
In an interview Tuesday, Leary said he was excited about his appointment to aid Biskupski in implementing her vision for Salt Lake City. But, he added, he's coming with some trepidation of the challenges ahead.
"The breadth of my work at the county and six townships has given me a lot of preparation for this job," he said. "But I will have to learn the city structure and how to navigate it."
He noted that the chief of staff position is something of a "pressure cooker." But, he said, his temperament is well suited for it.
"I am an engaging person who likes to do face-to-face conversations with employees at all levels," he said. "The mayor and myself will focus on an active process throughout City Hall."