City Council approves new public works director

The City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Robin Hutcheson, a transportation director in Salt Lake City, as the city’s new director of Public Works on Friday.

Robin Hutcheson
Robin Hutcheson

During her tenure in Salt Lake City, Hutcheson focused on increasing public transit ridership and making the city more friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists. The city also built its first streetcar line.

Hutcheson succeeds Steve Kotke in the position who retired earlier this year after 27 years with the city. She is also the first non-engineer to lead the public works department, which has more than 1,000 employees.

Mayor Betsy Hodges nominated Hutcheson for the position and said she’s the best person to lead an already strong department. She said broadening the search to non-engineers drew a stronger and more diverse candidate pool.

Hodges said Hutcheson has a “reputation as a practical innovator who gets things done.”

“She understands the need to build relationships and balance competing interests,” she said.

City Council President Barb Johnson (Ward 4), who had earlier expressed reservations about Hutcheson’s nomination, also expressed support for her. She said she had a chance to meet with her and got positive reviews from other people who have worked with her.

Again, she noted the large size and scope of the public works department. In addition to the city’s street infrastructure, the department oversees the Water Works division, a municipal parking system and Solid Waste and Recycling, among other things.

Hutcheson also joins the city at a time when city leaders are pressing ahead on goals requiring significant transformational change, including a new “complete streets” policy, a commitment to equity and a climate action plan that sets a target of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent or more by 2050.