County officials launch search for manager
Mesa County commissioners are setting the path toward hiring a new county administrator, formally establishing a search committee — themselves — on Monday to finalize candidates for the job.
Commissioners abruptly asked the previous administrator, Chantal Unfug, to resign a couple weeks after two new commissioners were seated on the board in January.
Tom Fisher, previously the county’s internal services director, has taken on the duties of interim county administrator since Unfug’s dismissal.
“We want someone who obviously understands the dynamics of the county, someone who understands the internal structure — has ideas about whether the current structure we have works or doesn’t work,” said Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who along with fellow Commissioner John Justman assumed their seats shortly after the new year.
Letters of interest and résumés will be accepted by the commission at the board’s offices until March 15.
A list of finalists for the job is expected to be released soon after, and the board expects to enter an employment agreement with one of them within 14 days of naming the finalists.
By definition, the county administrator coordinates the activities of county government at the direction of the three commissioners.
The administrator can hire or fire department directors, except those who serve under other elected officials, the county director of human services and the county attorney.
The administrator can be removed at any time if two of the three commissioners decide to remove him or her.
Developing and guiding the board through the budget process is a primary responsibility of the administrator, and one that will be a point of extra emphasis with this board, Pugliese said.
“I want them to have knowledge of our current budget process, what they like and what they don’t like, what we can do better,” she said.
“Budget is the only place where I want every line item, I want every number. I’m going to sit home on weekends and really analyze every number — because that’s what our constituents really expect and that’s what I heard throughout the campaign,” Pugliese added.
The longer-term strategic vision for the county, something that the new board will formulate in the months to come, is an even broader project that Pugliese hopes the new administrator tackles with enthusiasm.
“The three of us are going to sit down and say, ‘This is what our focus is for Mesa County, based on conversations that we’ve had with our constituents all across the board — and here’s what our focus needs to be,’ ” Pugliese said.
“Then we give those (goals) to the county administrator and ask, ‘How do we make this happen in our organization?’ “
Pugliese said that she’s seen “a lot of interest” from local people about the vacant job, but the search will not be limited to Mesa County, or even Colorado.
Both Interim County Administrator Fisher and county Director of Regional Services Donna Ross had been candidates for the job the last time around, before it was offered to Unfug in the end.