YUMA, Ariz. - The City of Yuma has hosted an open house Wednesday night for the public to meet the three finalists in the running to be the next city administrator.
Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls announced during the event that the fourth contender withdrew from the process.
Michael Celaya, Phillip Rodriguez and interim administrator Jay Simonton all have experience in local government, according to The City of Yuma (COY).
Simonton is focused on transparency within the city.
“That’s one of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard over the last six months is that the city has not been very transparent. So I want to make sure that is one of my primary goals is to make that happen,” said Interim Administrator Simonton.
Especially after the former administrator retired amid controversy.
“Given the drama we’ve had with former mayor Kreeger and former administrator Wilkinson and the recall effort that happened and the chief of police retiring,” explained on Yuma resident.
Both Celaya and Rodriguez explained how they plan to rebuild the trust.
“Instead of them coming to me I want to put them in a position where I will go to them, said Celaya.
“Beyond that I want to make sure that we’re communicating and its a two way communication between us and the public not only to understand what their wants, needs and desires are but to give us a chance to really address those via the budget with a strategic plan the community can be a part of,” said Rodriguez.
Overall, both Celaya and Rodriguez are intrigued by Yuma's economy.
“The economic engines you have here. You have a military base. You have an agriculture. You have tourism. You have downtown redevelopment. All great pieces of a vibrant community," explained Celaya.
“The economy here is strong. It’s healthy. It’s vibrant. But I’m also coming for an economic development background, I also see other areas where we can leverage some of that and continue to increase and make sure this continues to be a very prosperous community for many more generations to come,“ said Rodriguez.
Simonton is focused on his community.
"I'm dedicated to the community. I’ve worked for the city for 16 years. I’ve lived here for 25 years,” said Simonton.
"The city administrator is kind of like the CEO of a corporation if you look at it that way and the council kind of acts like the board of directors, explained Dave Nash, public information officer for COY. "That person is the chief executive of each of the departments and of course we have a lot of variance in the departments [and] the types of services we provide."
Nash added the council will spend the next couple of days interviewing the candidates.