Get to know your city manager candidates

From left: Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown, Deputy City Manager Ben Bitter and Deputy City Manager Matt Kozlowski.
From left: Assistant City Manager Jennifer Brown, Deputy City Manager Ben Bitter and Deputy City Manager Matt Kozlowski.

When it comes to finding Maricopa’s next city manager, officials plan to keep it in the family.

City officials confirmed Wednesday plans to hire an internal candidate to replace City Manager Rick Horst, who will step down from his role as the city’s highest paid employee July 1.

Benjamin Bitter, Jennifer Brown and Matthew Kozlowski currently work alongside Horst in the city manager’s office.

The city may even fast track that process. The agenda for an executive session before the Dec. 5 city council meeting shows council will discuss and review candidate interviews.

A statement this week from the city read each candidate “possesses the talent, skills, education, integrity and experience for the continued success of the city.”

Here’s a brief rundown of each candidate’s experience in and out of Maricopa based on multi-page resumes obtained in a public records request.

Benjamin Bitter — Deputy City Manager/Chief Product Officer

Bitter joined city staff in 2021 when he was hired as a director of engineering and capital improvement plan development before he was promoted to deputy city manager.

Currently, he oversees field operations, specifically the development services and public works departments.

In his resume, Bitter lists infrastructure projects as one of his career highlights with the city. This includes “oversight of over $128 million of capital projects in a single fiscal year, including the building of new highways, streets, bridges, a police department building, a city court and beautification efforts across the city.”

Bitter used to work as an assistant town manager in Florence from 2018 to 2021 and as a city manager in Ashland, Ky., for three years starting in 2013.

Jennifer Brown — Assistant City Manager/Chief Operating Officer

After spending more than four years as a television news anchor, Brown shifted to working in local government in 2009. She worked as a deputy public information officer in Colorado’s El Paso County before she was hired as Maricopa’s assistant to the city manager in 2015.

Brown has worked with the city since, supervising and managing various departments as an assistant city manager and administrative services director.

Currently, she “oversees the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of the city,” according to her resume, as well as supervising other deputy city managers, the city clerk and the communications and cultural services director.

Matthew Kozlowski — Deputy City Manager/Chief Financial Officer

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Kozlowski spent about 16 years working in the private sector. In June 2020, he transitioned to city government when he was hired as Maricopa’s chief financial officer.

In his resume, Kozlowski states he provides “strategic financial and operational leadership for all city departments,” as well as overseeing the city’s annual budget.

He touts helping to reduce property taxes, increasing general fund revenues and reducing spending in several departments.