Paul Jepson is Maricopa’s intergovernmental affairs director, but it is just one of many titles he has held over the decade he has been working for the city.
Jepson came to Maricopa on 2005, after working as a teacher and administrator at Mesa Public Schools. Jepson, who received a master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University, was brought in to help the city with issues in education, but his expertise in technology allowed him to handle multiple jobs simultaneously.
“I applied for a management assistant job through the college, and I was hired as employee No. 13,” Jepson says. “Initially, it was ‘Hey, we’re brand new and working out of trailers. You have a master’s degree and are a teacher so you know about education.’ I also happen to be [knowledgeable] in educational technology, so I was able to help with the webpage as well. That’s probably why I was hired. I was able to fill three hats, and I was willing to do it.”
On a daily basis, Jepson works alongside City Manager Gregory Rose and oversees special projects and the city’s relationships with other governmental agencies, public utilities and educational institutions. He serves as the city liaison with local, state, tribal and federal government entities and works closely with Maricopa’s City Council.
He also serves as a lobbyist for the city, especially in funding and obtaining grants.
“I see Paul as a mini Secretary of State,” Rose says. “He works to ensure that we keep open lines of communication and are aware of issues of concern at all levels of jurisdiction. He has a wealth of knowledge about Arizona and institutional information about what has gone on in Maricopa, and he has done a wonderful job for us.”
Over the last decade, Jepson has played an integral part in planning and securing funding for the State Route 347 grade separation. Though he diminishes his own role saying he was just a coordinator, he still sees the project as his most proud piece of work.
“In 2007 Janet Napolitano said Maricopa needs a grade separation,” Jepson says. “We have fought tooth and nail since to make that project happen. We aren’t quite there yet, but what we have been able to pull off in a down economy by getting the attention of the feds and the state has been amazing.”
Jepson may not believe he played a large role in the project, but his colleagues disagree. Rose was quick to offer praise for the role Jepson played in the process, and says the project would not be where it is without him.
“He has been very involved with the (overpass) project and has been working with the [Maricopa Mayor Christian Price] and former Mayor Kelly (Anderson) and with [the Arizona Department of Transportation] to make sure we can get funding for that project,” Rose says. “I think through making sure we were aware of the people we needed to talk with and presentations that needed to be made, that is just one example of a project that he has been involved with that he has demonstrated how capable he is.”
When you watch Jepson at a City Council meeting or at an event, it becomes clear how hard he works. He is constantly moving, providing documents to officials and ensuring mutually beneficial parties come into contact. However, he still manages to control the chaos with a smile on his face.
“For what Paul does, he is very overlooked,” Mayor Price says. “He helps us negotiate the mine field that is intergovernmental relations. He does amazing work that no one ever knows about. He does a lot of political smoothing over to make sure our lives are easier.”
Jepson has taken the time to get to know each member of the ever-changing City Council over the last 10 years. He then finds a way to work with each one to ensure the city runs smoothly and its residents are happy.
“I have always worked very closely with the council to make sure they have what they need,” Jepson says. “You always have different personalities, so you get to learn the style and needs of each council member. You find out what they like and what their priorities are. Doing the government relations means that we utilize, at times, the council’s relationships, so I facilitate that.”
Jepson’s dedication to the city of Maricopa is unquestioned. For the last 10 years, Jepson has commuted from North Phoenix to Maricopa each day. He doesn’t do it because he can’t find work elsewhere; he does it because he simply loves the city and the people he works with.
“I have never been afraid to drive to get to what I want to do,” Jepson says. “I have family, I have five grandkids, and I have my mom. So I didn’t want to relocate. I made the decision that I would drive down here, and they could stay put.”
Co-workers say this is just the kind of man Paul Jepson is. He doesn’t seek personal glory or recognition. He simply comes to work, does his job and ensures the city develops the relationships it needs to be successful.
“Paul knows everybody,” Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown says. “Everywhere I’ve gone he knows every person. It’s a great thing, and they all like him. People always run over to him to say hi or to chit-chat.”
Jepson’s approach is all about the relationships he built personally and for the city. He loves his work, but he knows it wouldn’t be as enjoyable without the people he works with. He enjoys the challenge of working with other cities, and he says he even enjoys working with the federal government. He hopes, when the time comes, he will leave the city of Maricopa better than when he arrived 10 years ago.
“It’s always good to look back on what you’ve done in your life and say, ‘I made something different,’” Jepson says. “I want to look back and see that the city has done better since I came.”
This story appeared in the Fall Edition of InMaricopa the Magazine.