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ACMA Member Profile
Josh Copley
City Manager, City of Flagstaff, AZ

Name, title & city/town
Josh Copley, City Manager, City of Flagstaff, AZ

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from San Diego, CA. I moved to Flagstaff in 1985 to take a job as a police officer for the City of Flagstaff. After graduating from the police academy in Tucson, I went right to work as an undercover narcotics officer. I didn't know anyone in Flagstaff and the area was unfamiliar to me. It was a very exciting time and I learned a lot about human nature. Over the course of a 27-year career, I retired as the deputy police chief. Finding it hard to slow down, I decided to try my hand at city management. It's a lot like being a cop but you don't get to carry a gun or badge so you have to use your wits, experience, and sense of humor to get you through. Also, your new "uniform" is a suit and tie which is hard when you're more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in local government?
Having served in the U.S. Coast Guard for six years prior to joining the Flagstaff Police Department, I was invigorated by the great good that could be accomplished through service. However, serving at the federal level seemed a little distant and disconnected for me and I felt that a local government would a better fit. I believe that it was Thomas Jefferson who said that "government is best that is closest to the people."

What do you like most about your job?
Each day is a new experience with a myriad of issues, challenges, and successes. Being a city manager is kind of like being a police officer. You're expected to know a little bit about everything, make decisions in the blink of an eye, and solve problems fairly and with a touch of creativity.

What areas of local government interest you the most?
One of the divisions that I oversee is community development. I have learned a great deal about the built environment and its significant impact on the quality of life of our citizens.

As a local government professional, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
In Flagstaff we have worked really hard to care for and protect the things that our community values including our environment, equality, natural resources, and (most importantly) our people.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Enjoy what you do and treat everyone with dignity and respect whether they're present or not.
Arizona City/County Management Association
1820 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007   •   Phone: (602) 258-5786   •   Fax: (602) 253-3874   •