Edward Harrington (2011)

Environmental steward

Position: General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)

Best known for: Getting things done — kickstarting a capital program, getting a department to run, hiring people. From the mayor down, Harrington is known as competent, independent, and having a sense of humor.

Public service career: Harrington went to work for the city of San Francisco in 1984 as a financial manager and then served as the controller of the city and county of San Francisco from 1991 to 2008. Today he oversees the regional utility that delivers drinking water to more than 2.5 million Bay Area customers, collects and treats wastewater and stormwater for the city and county of San Francisco, and provides hydroelectric and other renewable power resources for San Francisco municipal customers.

Biggest challenge: Upgrading SFPUC’s water, wastewater, and power systems and being a good steward of the land and environment (SFPUC is one of the largest landowners in Northern California), while keeping rates reasonable and maintaining the trust of customers.

Greatest reward: Working with incredible people and helping them grow. Making a positive difference in the lives of the people SFPUC serves and the land it manages.

Why public service: “My mother was a schoolteacher. I believe in public service. A few years ago, there were dark days when we had no money and we were going crazy. The mayor asked when I’d just give up. I told him that’s not a choice — we have a responsibility to the people who depend on us to make government work.”