The Puyallup City Council has appointed Steve Kirkelie as Puyallup’s new City Manager. Kirkelie has held several positions in the City of Puyallup since 2007, including Assistant City Manager and most recently serving as the Interim City Manager since July 2019.
The City of Puyallup is organized under the council-manager form of government. The council-manager form of government consists of an elected city council, which is responsible for policymaking and adoption of an annual budget, and a professional city manager who is appointed by the council and responsible for administration. The city manager provides policy advice, directs the daily operations of the municipal organization, and oversees all staff.
In Puyallup, Kirkelie will administer a nearly $127 million annual budget and oversee a workforce of 300 full-time staff in addition to numerous part-time, temporary and seasonal employees. As city manager, he will serve as the chief executive of the municipal organization and direct the provision of all services, programs and facilities, including those related to water, streets, parks and law enforcement.
“I can attest to Steve’s dedication to this city and our residents,” said Puyallup Mayor Julie Door. “He truly cares about Puyallup and I’ve never seen him give less than 150%. I look forward to working with him as he assumes this critical role.”
“This is an exciting time in Puyallup, with regional partnerships in the works on affordable housing and trail connections, to name a few,” said Deputy Mayor John Palmer. “I’m confident that Steve is the right person to help us move these and other critical initiatives forward, and I’m very excited to have him officially on board.”
“Without question, Steve Kirkelie is the right person at the right time for this position,” said Councilmember Dean Johnson. “He is fair and objective and a man of integrity. He’s a true professional who is always learning and striving for excellence. He holds his staff accountable and he has roots right here in Puyallup. I endorse his appointment one hundred percent.”
“I’ve led hundreds of people during my 23 years in the Navy, and Steve is one of the best leaders I’ve encountered,” District 1 Councilmember Robin Farris said. “He puts customer service first and foremost. He is invested in putting together an exceptional leadership team and I feel certain they will accomplish great things under the leadership of Steve Kirkelie!”
"I’ve been in this office for two years and have been a very strong if not the strongest critic as far as viewing how the city is managed,” said Councilmember Jim Kastama. “When the opportunity arose last year, I was determined to look high and low to get the best city manager for Puyallup and I believe Steve is that person. Steve will ensure that all of our 18 departments will become the best they can be, not anecdotally but as proven through strategic planning, performance measures and a comprehensive audit that most cities in the state would never even attempt—but we’ll do that here in Puyallup as part of our sincere, focused and ongoing efforts to strive for excellence.”
“I respect Steve and his work ethic and I know him to be a transparent, collaborative leader,” said Councilmember Cyndy Jacobsen. “The City is on the right path towards advancing some very important initiatives such as biennial budgeting and streamlining our permitting processes to achieve new efficiencies that will save applicants time and attract investment. I have no reservations about our choice of Steve for city manager.”
“I was impressed with Steve’s willingness to respond to my concerns when I was a mere candidate for the city council, and that he extended me the same level of respect then that he does now that I am a councilmember,” said District 3 Councilmember Ned Witting. “Steve has demonstrated himself to be a hard worker, a strong leader and an effective communicator. I believe he will make a real difference in our community.”
Subsequent to the Council’s action, Kirkelie immediately assumed the role of Puyallup’s chief appointed official, effective February 26th.
Prior to his tenure at City of Puyallup, Kirkelie worked in the private sector and for the City of Bellingham. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Western Washington University and a Juris Doctor degree from Willamette University College of Law. He and his wife Cheryl, an elementary school teacher, live in Puyallup with their two daughters who attend schools in the Puyallup School District.