The director of the city's largest department, hailed for her leadership in securing additional street funding, will leave her post this week to pursue a job in the private sector, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced Tuesday.
Miki Esposito, director of Lincoln Transportation and Utilities, will be replaced by Tom Casady, the city's longtime police chief and retired public safety director, who returns to city hall in an interim role.
Casady will begin work Wednesday, the city said in a news release. Esposito's last day is Friday.
Where exactly Esposito was heading wasn't clear Tuesday afternoon, and she didn't respond to a request for comment.
In the news release, Esposito said she believed staff will ensure that department projects remain on track.
"From the South Beltway to the sales tax for street improvements to water projects and sidewalk repairs, LTU will continue to deliver services that grow Lincoln's economy and improve our high quality of life," she said.
Esposito worked as an attorney for the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality before joining the city in 2006. She moved into what then was known as the Public Works Department in 2009 and was named its first woman director by Mayor Chris Beutler in 2012.
In 2016, Esposito left city government for five months to work for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, but later returned to her job as public works director.
“She is a transformational leader, creating a culture of compassion and customer service in government as well as fostering a spirit of empowerment and innovation in LTU," Gaylor Baird said in a statement. "I am truly grateful for her strategic leadership and valuable service to our community. We wish her continued success.”
City Council Chair Jane Raybould called Esposito an outstanding leader who will be an asset wherever she goes.
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Raybould highlighted Esposito's leadership in the campaign to enact a quarter-cent sales tax earmarked for street repairs as a way the city can build on her work in the coming years.
Her department's street funding levels have been the envy of other communities, including Omaha, Raybould said.
Lincoln Transportation and Utilities is the largest city department and includes these divisions: administration, right-of-way services, project delivery, traffic operations, street maintenance, public transit, watershed management, the wastewater system, solid waste management and the water system.
Casady began work as an officer with the Lincoln Police Department in 1974. He served as Lancaster County Sheriff from 1987 to 1994 and as Lincoln Police Chief from 1994 to 2011 before moving to a new role as public safety director from 2011 until his retirement in February.
Gaylor Baird eliminated the public safety director position upon taking office this spring.
Tuesday, the mayor thanked Casady for agreeing to return to work with the city in a temporary role.
“Tom has a long history of service to the city,” she said. “His steady leadership over the next few months will give us the opportunity to search for a permanent director while ensuring that the vital work done by members of LTU continues to be executed.”
A city spokeswoman said Casady will not be considered for the permanent position. He will be paid $48 an hour in his interim role.
As the search for a permanent Transportation and Utilities director begins, Gaylor Baird is seeking someone to lead the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department following the death of Director Shavonna Lausterer in June.
Gaylor Baird named Dan Marvin as Urban Development director in May.