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Medford hires new planning director

Medford's new Planning Department director won't have to travel far when he starts at the post next year.

Matt Brinkley, who currently serves as the city of Phoenix's planning director, will switch cities Jan. 3.

Brinkley, 45, will start with an annual salary of $95,000 and oversee a department of 17 people. He will fill the vacancy left by Jim Huber, who retired at the end of August but stayed on another month to assist the department in the transition phase. Kelly Akin, principal planner for the department, will serve as the interim director until Brinkley comes aboard.

"This is a really significant opportunity for anyone, I think," Brinkley said, "to work in a leadership role in planning for a city the size of Medford."

Medford's planning department is made up of two parts: comprehensive planning and current planning. Comprehensive planning is responsible for helping to develop and implement city land-use policies, while current planning is responsible for all new development applications.

Brinkley has worked for the city of Phoenix since 2014. Before that, he worked in Lansing, Michigan, from 2007 to 2014 as a senior planner. He has a master's degree in urban and regional planning from Michigan State University, where he also completed his undergraduate degree work.

Medford City Manager Brian Sjothun said Brinkley's hiring came after an extensive search and interview process that involved three interview panels. Sjothun said Brinkley stood out from the six candidates who participated in formal interviews.

"He seemed to be very collaborative with the development community, always seemed to find solutions for situations, has great experience, great demeanor," Sjothun said. "I think he'll be a great representative for the city of Medford."

Brinkley said he's looking forward to working on the city's urban growth boundary and helping to continue development downtown, making it a spot "that is open and active after 5 o'clock."

"I'm really excited to be starting in the position," Brinkley said. "I think Medford has a lot of very exciting things going on, and I feel honored to be a part of that."

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.