Metro water undergoes leadership changes

2014-01-23T00:00:00Z Metro water undergoes leadership changesBy Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Changes are afoot at the top of Metro Water, an independent utility that serves the northwest and east side and parts of the southwest side of Tucson.

The company has named a new general manager and chief financial officer and announced the departure of those who currently hold those positions.

Joseph Olsen will take over Monday as general manager, replacing Mark Stratton, who is retiring. An Air Force reservist, Olsen comes from Tucson Water, where he has served as interim deputy director, planning administrator and engineering manager. Stratton will retire March 5.

Olsen earned a master’s of Military Operational Art and Science from Air University and a civil engineering degree the University of Arizona. .

Diane Bracken has taken over as the new chief financial officer. She has worked in various financial roles for Pima County over the last 15 years. She replaces Mike Land, who retired Jan. 15. Bracken holds a master’s in public management from Northern Arizona University and a business administration degree from Liberty University.

Stratton had been on the job since 1994, while Land had served in his role since 1995.

“My primary goals are, first, to continue the great day-to-day operation of the district, and continue to make sure the district is well-run financially, as well as the water reliability side,” Olsen said.

Olsen said his goal throughout his career has been to manage a utility, and he’s itching for the opportunity to get rolling.

“This is absolutely something I’ve hoped for,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to lead a water utility such as this. It’s a phenomenal opportunity, and the timing is very appropriate.”

Olsen said he doesn’t ascribe to one particular style of leadership.

“I’ve always been more about situational leadership,” he said. “I kind of let the issue and the capability of employees dictate how I react. Some employees are very stellar and knowledgeable, so I’ll delegate and let them know the tasks that need to get done.”

Stratton oversaw $23 million and $28 million capital improvement programs to Metro’s water system, improving the infrastructure to allow it to handle an increased 16.5 million gallons of storage capacity.

Stratton also guided Metro to secure its allocation of Central Arizona Project water, putting it to use through acquiring the Avra Valley Recharge Project. And he expanded Metro’s service areas in 1999 and 2009.

Stratton said he hopes to take cross-country motorcycle treks in retirement, and feels he’s leaving the company in good hands.

“I want to turn the reins over to someone with a little bit more energy so this doesn’t become a status quo-type of operation,” he said. “Hopefully he brings some renewed energy.”

Stratton said he’s proud of what he accomplished on the job.

“Over 20 years, we really accomplished a lot,” he said. “The improvements we were able to make efficiently added to the reliability of our programs. We’ve really gotten the operation to a pretty good position.”

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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