Four finalists in line to be Mesa County administrator

Longtime county employee Donna Ross makes short list

Longtime Mesa County employee and Acting Regional Services Director Donna Ross is one of four finalists for the county administrator post.

The other finalists are:

Lynda Boswell of Leavenworth, Kan. Boswell performs financial monitoring for the Iraqi government in her work for RTI International, a North Carolina-based research institute. She previously served as the town manager in Kiowa and the county administrator in Kit Carson County.

Roger Kolman of Maricopa, Ariz. Kolman is a certified public accountant and the assistant city manager in Maricopa. He previously served as Maricopa’s director of financial services.

Chantal Unfug of Denver. Unfug is the manager of the Denver Parks and Recreation Department. She previously served as deputy manager of the department.

County officials said a fifth finalist could emerge but didn’t announce one by the end of the day Monday.

The finalists, who were chosen from a group of 40 applicants, are expected to meet with a couple of community groups and interview with commissioners April 7 and 8.

Kolman is the only one of the four who applied for the job during the initial application period last fall. He was invited to interview at the time but was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict, county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson said.

After a 5 1/2-year stint as the code enforcement and development services director, Ross was promoted this month to acting regional services director. Ross oversees several departments, including Code Enforcement, Fairgrounds, Facilities and Parks and the Regional Transportation Planning Office. Tom Fisher, the current regional services director, has been accepted into the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania and will take a one-year leave of absence beginning this summer.

Ross began working for the county in 1993 and has worked as a paralegal and elections director, in addition to her other duties. In between, she left for a year to work as a paralegal for the city of Grand Junction.

She said she considered applying for the county administrator job for a while and felt now was the time and opportunity to do so.

“I know the county inside and out,” Ross said. “I’ve developed many partnerships in the county, both internally in the organization and externally in the community. As I thought about all that, I thought, ‘I really believe I can do this job.’ “

She said while the county currently is facing challenges, she believes it has a bright future, citing what she believes to be a deep pool of employee talent and strong leadership from which to draw.

The county is looking for a permanent replacement for Jon Peacock, who resigned in July to tend to personal family matters after five years on the job. Peacock was hired as Pitkin County manager in January, the same month Tom Papin was named acting Mesa County administrator.

The county’s first attempt to replace Peacock led them to former Florida executive Michael Freilinger, but commissioners withdrew a tentative job offer after they were unable to agree on him as their top choice and his salary.

Commissioners hope to have an administrator aboard by May 9.


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