Following a national search, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway on Wednesday named Matt Wachter to lead the city’s influential Planning, Community and Economic Development Department.
Wachter, who currently manages the city’s Office of Real Estate Services, was chosen from a field of 28 candidates and three finalists that also included Justice Castaneda, executive director of nonprofit Common Wealth Development, and Eric Shaw, an adviser in community planning and capacity building for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
The director is one of the city’s biggest jobs, overseeing 190 employees and an array of activities, including lower-cost housing, development and community services while at the center of the city’s major projects.
“Matt’s focus on, and creativity around, affordable housing solutions is important for the city right now. Increasing the supply of affordable housing is a top priority for my administration, and this position needs to be focused on that,” Rhodes-Conway said in a statement.
“Matt is also familiar with the department, since he has worked in a number of divisions within (it) and has been developing his knowledge base and management skills for a number of years,” she said. “That experience will serve him, and the city, well.”
Nan Fey, an attorney who had served on numerous city committees, has served in an interim capacity since mid-May following the retirement of director Natalie Erdman. Fey did not seek the permanent position. Erdman is currently serving as interim Metro Transit general manager, replacing Chuck Kamp, who retired last month.
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“I am incredibly grateful for the service of Natalie Erdman and Nan Fey, and I know they have left the department in great shape,” Rhodes-Conway said. “I am confident that Matt will build on this, while keeping the department focused on my priorities.”
Wachter, who could not be reached, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations and a master’s of business administration and urban economics from UW-Madison. He’s worked for the city since 2011, initially as a grant administrator, then as a housing initiatives specialist and interim economic revitalization supervisor.
In September 2017, he was named manager of the city’s Office of Real Estate Services, where he oversaw the acquisition, sale and leasing of city real estate as well as the negotiation of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) investments and other real estate agreements with private developers and businesses.
He has also served as a green building consultant and worked as staff in the office of then-U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
Wachter will start his new position on Dec. 16 with an annual salary of $153,000.
The city will begin a search for a new manager of the Office of Real Estate Services.