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Jan Lesher takes over as acting Pima County administrator

Deputy County Administrator Jan Lesher has been named acting county administrator, temporarily halting Chuck Huckelberry’s control of the position as he recovers from a major bicycle crash.

The move, solidified by a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, is “a formality,” according to Lesher. It’s unknown when, and if, Huckelberry will return to the job.

Huckelberry suffered a brain bleed, a punctured lung and broken ribs after he was struck by a car while riding his bike downtown on Oct. 23.

A Tucson Police Department report says the accident was the result of a driver making an unsafe lane change, hitting a white Jeep Wrangler and causing it to “fishtail in the intersection on only its driver’s side wheels” and knock Huckelberry off his bike.

Huckelberry’s wife, Maureen Huckelberry, said on Nov. 18 he was “out of the hospital and is now receiving care and physical and other therapies at a new facility.”

Lesher made clear she’s not replacing Huckelberry, but that the appointment to acting county administrator grants her “the authority to function as the county administrator in the signing of documents moving forward,” as well as control over tasks such as “the budget and the day-to-day administrative functions.”

Supervisor Matt Heinz asked administration to start looking into what actions to take in case Huckelberry is unable to return.

“If it comes to it, how do we start going about a national search … those sorts of things need to start happening in parallel in case Mr. Huckelberry is unable to do his normal duties in the near future,” he said.

Supervisor Steve Christy took issue with the ask, calling Heinz’s comments “insensitive” and “way too early in the whole process that we’re going through.”

Heinz rebutted, “I think it’s incredibly insensitive of us, as a board, to expect a man who’s 72, who was flown into the air, to be resuming his normal duties on our behalf at all, and certainly not quickly.”

Huckelberry has been the county administrator for 28 years, a role in which he now manages a $2.1 billion budget, which includes federal COVID-19 relief funds as well as local taxpayer money, and a staff of more than 7,300 employees. His base salary is $292,000 a year.

Lesher, who makes a $231,000 annual salary, has served in her current county role since 2017 and previously worked as Chief of Staff for former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and as the director of the Arizona Department of Commerce.

Contact reporter Nicole Ludden at nludden@tucson.com


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