Tempe’s city manager is calling it quits after a career that included running the library, giving advice about space aliens and getting yelled at over a dead golfer.
Will Manley, 57, announced his retirement Monday after 6 1/2 years of running the city of 160,000. Manley said the job simply wore him out.
“There’s no story behind the story,” Manley said. “It’s nothing more than a guy who feels like he’s earned his retirement and wants to spend time with his growing family.”
The former librarian became Tempe’s library director 25 years ago and gradually rose through the ranks.
Manley became city manager in 2001 after complaints about discrimination at City Hall forced former city manager Gary Brown to step down. An interim city manager reorganized the city, though Manley ordered some reforms of his own.
Manley ran the city during a building boom downtown and along Tempe Town Lake. Other major projects include construction of the Metro light-rail line, the Tempe Center for the Arts and Tempe Marketplace.
Manley said he could rarely escape from the job. He’d get calls on vacations, weekends and at night. And some tasks were just odd.
Manley recalled getting a call from a woman who said aliens had landed in her backyard. Manley advised the woman to turn her television antenna to make them go away. The woman called back the next day and said Manley’s tactic did the trick.
Before becoming manager, Manley once got a call at home on a weekend from a golfer who was furious that somebody had died on the links and held up his game by 45 minutes. The caller berated Manley for not having a contingency plan that would have let him play through.
Manley’s last day is Aug. 31. He’ll sell his Tempe home this fall and move to Livermore, Calif. His two sons live there, and Manley wants to be there with his wife when a granddaughter is born in October.
He doesn’t want a “real job,” but is still passionate about books and hopes to travel and give speeches to librarians.
City managers typically hold their posts for about four years. Manley said he’d been mulling over retirement for a year but decided last week it was time to do it.
“It was a matter of running out of gas,” he said.