New Sur­prise man­ager rose up through ranks

Re­sume lists work as po­lice of­fi­cer, city ad­min­is­tra­tor

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Jen Fi­field

The new city man­ager of Sur­prise, Mike Fra­zier, has a long re­sume of mu­nic­i­pal ser­vice. After ris­ing through the ranks as a Phoenix po­lice of­fi­cer, Fra­zier be­came po­lice chief in El Mi­rage, then po­lice chief in Sur­prise, be­fore cross­ing into ad­min­is­tra­tion as Sur­prise’s as­sis­tant city man­ager in 2015.

There’s a faded pic­ture of Mike Fra­zier from when he was 22 and grad­u­at­ing the academy to be­come a po­lice of­fi­cer in Phoenix.

He’s stand­ing up straight, don­ning a pressed blue uni­form with a wide grin and a gun on his hip.

Fra­zier said that young man in the pic­ture had al­ways wanted to be a po­lice of­fi­cer, but had no idea what ca­reer he had ahead of him.

The Sur­prise City Coun­cil ap­pointed Fra­zier as the new city man­ager on Tues­day.

After ris­ing through the ranks in Phoenix, he be­came po­lice chief in El Mi­rage, then po­lice chief in Sur­prise, and then crossed into ad­min­is­tra­tion as Sur­prise’s as­sis­tant city man­ager in 2015.

Fra­zier will now re­place four-year Sur­prise City Man­ager Bob Win­gen­roth, who an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion last month.

Those who know both say Fra­zier’s per­son­al­ity and po­lice back­ground will lead him to take a more hard-line ap­proach to manag­ing the city and he will de­mand more ac­count­abil­ity. But his dogged­ness and strict ap­proach have won him only friends in the past.

“He held us ac­count­able, but you could tell he treated us with dig­nity, with re­spect,” said Phoenix Po­lice Chief Jeri Wil­liams, who worked for Fra­zier in the 1990s and 2000s. “He has this in­fec­tious way of mak­ing you want to come in and do a good job.”

Fra­zier en­ters his role as the Sur­prise City Coun­cil un­der­goes a tran­si­tion.

On Tues­day, dur­ing the coun­cil meet­ing in which the coun­cil ap­pointed Fra­zier, Mayor Sharon Wol­cott an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion. The coun­cil will now ap­point a coun­cil mem­ber to fill her spot.

This means there will soon be a new mayor, a coun­cil va­cancy, and one other out­go­ing coun­cil­man, since Chris Judd de­feated Coun­cil­man Todd Tande in the pri­mary elec­tion in Au­gust.

After Wol­cott an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion, Fra­zier told The Ari­zona Repub­lic that he doesn’t think this puts the city in an un­sta­ble po­si­tion.

“I think we’re on a good path,” he said. “We’ll keep rolling on this jour­ney.”

Fra­zier said his back­ground has pre­pared him for any­thing.

“Not much in­tim­i­dates me,” he said. Coun­cil­man Skip Hall said Fra­zier is well-re­garded by city em­ploy­ees, which will make for an easy tran­si­tion.

Fra­zier made $4.79 an hour dur­ing his first year on the Phoenix Po­lice De­part­ment in 1975.

His an­nual city man­ager salary will be $230,000, un­der the con­tract ap­proved by the coun­cil.

He said he got into polic­ing be­cause he felt like he could help peo­ple. He didn’t stay an of­fi­cer for long. After four years, he took a test and

scored high enough to re­ceive a pro­mo­tion. A se­ries of pro­mo­tions dur­ing the next three decades even­tu­ally led him to be­come the de­part­ment’s ex­ec­u­tive chief, which put him sec­ond in com­mand.

“The op­por­tu­nity to have a greater im­pact kept me ad­vanc­ing,” he said.

When he worked in Phoenix, he said, he was al­ways the last one to leave the build­ing at night. He be­lieves hard work yields good re­sults.

Dur­ing his time run­ning the in­ves­tiga­tive unit, he said, he cre­ated a pro­gram that tar­geted a high-crime area.

“We crushed crime in that area,” he said.

Andy An­der­son, a re­tired as­sis­tant po­lice chief in Phoenix who worked along­side Fra­zier, said he isn’t sur­prised by Fra­zier’s ap­point­ment as city man­ager.

He’s al­ways been driven and pas­sion­ate about his work, An­der­son said.

“It’s the best thing that could hap­pen to Sur­prise,” An­der­son said. “Not only for the em­ploy­ees, but for the city it­self.”

In 2007, Fra­zier re­tired from the Phoenix de­part­ment and was ap­pointed as po­lice chief in El Mi­rage.

When he got there, he said, the de­part­ment was in sham­bles. The Mari­copa County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice had been run­ning the de­part­ment, and the city was tran­si­tion­ing back to hav­ing its own lead­er­ship.

“We built a pro­fes­sional po­lice de­part­ment,” he said. “It wasn’t there when I got there. We put poli­cies in place, we cre­ated beats, we started hav­ing com­mu­nity events. We re­ally bridged the gap with the com­mu­nity.”

When the po­lice chief spot in Sur­prise came open in 2011, Fra­zier said he couldn’t pass up the op­por­tu­nity.

As city man­ager, Fra­zier said, he will work on ac­count­abil­ity. He said he has al­ways thought about things method­olog­i­cally.

“I have al­ways be­lieved you could put all the pro­grams into place, but if you aren’t mon­i­tor­ing it, you haven’t ac­com­plished any­thing,” he said. “Ev­ery­body will tell you they are busy, but you have to won­der, ‘Are you busy do­ing the right things?’ ”

He said he thinks the city is gen­er­ally headed in the right di­rec­tion.

He called Sur­prise a “di­a­mond in the desert.”

MARK HENLE/THE REPUB­LIC

Mike Fra­zier is ris­ing yet an­other step in his ca­reer in mu­nic­i­pal ser­vice, this time to the po­si­tion of city man­ager at Sur­prise City Hall.

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