By Ted AYALA
Four months after being named interim general manager of Glendale Water & Power (GWP), Steve Zurn was appointed to the post on a permanent basis by the Glendale City Council on Tuesday. Zurn assumed the position in May after the resignation of former general manager Glenn Steiger. Previously he had been the director of Public Works for the city – a position he will continue to fill simultaneously with his new one. The Council unanimously approved his appointment to the GWP.
Zurn thanked the council and city manager for the appointment.
“It’s certainly an honor,” he said. “I’m flattered by your support, your faith in me, and my ability to not only manage the GWP, but also to continue to watch over Public Works. I’m excited about managing the opportunities in the GWP. We have a little bit of a tough road we’re dealing with and some challenges ahead of us. In the last months I’ve only scratched the surface. But I can tell you that there is a lot of potential there and I’m looking forward to turning this around [to] get this utility up financially where we deserve to be.”
Zurn also made mention of the work of GWP staff saying that he enjoyed working with them and that he “couldn’t do it without them.”
Mayor Frank Quintero echoed Zurn’s sentiments with his own praise of GWP staff.
“I’m always talking to the refuse truck drivers and the forklift operators and all the rest of them, and they seem to think you’re a fair guy and you do a good job of representing them and working with them,” said the mayor.
“You’ve earned our collective respect,” said Councilmember Dave Weaver to Zurn. “You’ve got great credibility with us.”
Though Zurn was met with many words of congratulations and praise, he will be grappling with serious challenges as head of the GWP. Most pressing will be negotiating a new contract with members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18 (IBEW). The city has been deadlocked with the IBEW over the new contract since spring. As Zurn was being confirmed for the position in the city council chamber, members of the IBEW were protesting outside.
Zurn’s predecessor at the GWP, Glenn Steiger, resigned amid controversy regarding double billing for expenses incurred while representing another unaffiliated organization at a conference. Steiger’s resignation came a day after the city began an inquiry into the expenses. Steiger insisted that the timing was unrelated.
Public Works and GWP will continue to be operated separately, Zurn’s leadership of both departments notwithstanding.