A new city manager
Few people get a six-month tryout for a top position. But Rich Englehart did, and he is grateful the Grand Junction City Council named him city manager last week, after six months with the word “interim” in front of his title.
Perhaps “welcome” is not the correct thing to say to someone who has been in his current job since last December, and who first hired on with the city nearly 30 years ago in the Parks and Rec Department. So, we’ll just say, “Best of luck, Rich.”
The job of city manager is not an easy one, in Grand Junction or any place else.
The city manager answers directly to the seven-member City Council, each of whom have their own concerns and goals, and who may be replaced at the next election by someone with entirely different ideas and objectives.
Furthermore, under Grand Junction’s City Charter, the city manager is ultimately responsible for the actions of several hundred city employees, from the police chief to those tending flowers in the city’s parks. While Grand Junction has historically had very good city employees, the aberrant actions of one or two workers can cause serious headaches for the city manager.
Additionally, members of the public are as likely to hold the city manager responsible for any perceived problems as they are the City Council. And the city manager lives in a glass house, under constant scrutiny by council members, citizens and those of us in the media.
But Englehart is no newcomer to all this. In addition to his six months as interim city manager here, and four years as assistant city manager, he served as city manager in Delta, as well as in other very public posts in that community. We hope that experience helps him weather the storms that are likely to buffet a city manager in this city.
Englehart’s interim tenure began when his predecessor, Laurie Kadrich, got crossways with several members of the City Council, in part for not keeping council members fully apprised of important issues related to the city. He seems to have taken the lessons of Kadrich’s dismissal to heart.
Asked about his goals by The Daily Sentinel, Englehart’s first response was “to support the elected officials and make sure they have all the information they need to make tough decisions.”
We were pleased to hear him also say, “I certainly understand the importance of our business community. The sales tax is how we survive.” He stressed the need for city administration to work closely with local businesses.
Also, as a news organization, we appreciate Englehart’s stated commitment to open government and transparency.
Englehart is a Cortez native who graduated from what was then Mesa College before taking a job with the city in 1983. A short time later, he moved to Delta, where he spent 23 years before returning to Grand Junction. He said he has no desire to leave the Western Slope or Grand Junction.
We wish him all the best.