By Jack Mayne

The Des Moines City Council was introduced to a number of new city department heads by City Manager Michael Matthias at their Thursday (May 24, 2018) meeting.

Matthias had earlier appointed Police Chief George Delgado to the new position of emergency management director and replaced him with the former Chief of the Kent Police Department, Ken Thomas to serve as the new Police Chief for Des Moines.

Delgado was chief for six years.

Delgado’s new job

The city has long indicated to citizens that such a position as emergency management director would be a good idea, but until relatively recently there just was no money for such a job.

Now with the operating budget at solid levels, Matthias thought this was the time.

“George has served as our Police Chief for the last 5 years and 10 months, and has the right skills, experience, and connections within our community, neighboring jurisdictions, the Greater Federal Way Emergency Management Task Force, and with the King County Emergency Operations Center,” said Matthias. “Given George’s work in emergency management, we can’t think of anyone else better to fill this role for our community.”

The city manager said many citizens have come to the Council to express concern “about the well-being of our children and families in this community, there has been a focus to some degree on aircraft noise, health impacts and safety,” adding the most important thing is to be prepared for emergencies. Matthias said Delgado has “skills in that area, he has great skills in working with external agencies.”

Former Kent Chief hired

The new Police Chief is Ken Thomas, who served as Kent Police Chief for over seven years and for the Kent Police Department for over 29 years. He took over as Police Chief effective May 16, 2018.

“Ken has an outstanding background in law enforcement and he will move forward with our Police Department, based on his extensive experience,” Matthias said. “Two areas where he will be of great benefit are relationships with other law enforcement agencies including Drug Enforcement Agency and FBI dealing with gang violence and violent crimes. Chief Thomas is also very capable in the manner in which he relates to and interacts with the community.”

Acting Harbor Master

Matthias also introduced the new acting harbor master, Scott Wilkins, the assistant harbor master under long-serving Joe Dusenbury, who will step down from the job after 24 years on May 31.

Effective June 1, Wilkins will have been with the Marina for 22 years and he is supported by the other six members of the staff who together have over 80 years of Marina experience, the city said.

“Throughout the years Joe has provided an invaluable service to this city and has provided amazing leadership and a steadfast presence at the Marina,” the city said in a statement. “While Joe will no longer be serving in the role of harbor master, he will remain with the city on a limited basis through the end of the year, finishing up some miscellaneous projects and assignments at the Marina. Joe will also be available to provide support and assistance for the Marina staff and city administration as we continue with our succession planning work for the Marina.”

The new human resources officer is Adrienne Johnson, formerly with Pierce Transit in Tacoma where she has been working in human resources for over 14 years. Her first official day was May 16, 2018.

Finance Director

Another new hire is Finance Director Beth Ann Wroe, formerly finance director for the city of Issaquah.

Wroe comes to the city with over 30 years of audit and management experience in public sector finance and accounting. The city said she has been a licensed CPA since 1984.

“Her city government experience was largely gained while working at cities in Pierce County along with her most recent job at Issaquah as deputy finance director.” The city said “she has extensive experience with financial planning, forecasting, budget development and monitoring, debt financing and management, management of the Finance Department and financial software systems.”

Community Development

Matthias also reintroduced Susan Cezar, who has been the community development director and now has added responsibility working with the transition of the city parks and recreation services. She will now become the city’s chief strategic officer.

“Susan comes to us with over 30 years of experience, most of which is from Snohomish County, and most recently from the City of Sammamish, where she served as the Deputy Director of Community Development for 11 years,” the city said. Cezar has “experience initiating programs and systems from the ground up, and completed the initial regulations, policies and processes necessary for the start-up of the city.”