Private-sector, financial skills sought in county manager

With Mesa County’s unemployment rate hovering around 11 percent, two of the county’s three commissioners say it’s important for the county’s next administrator to possess strong financial skills and be able to partner with the private sector to create and retain jobs.

The four finalists for the top county job will meet Thursday with two panels composed of county employees, community leaders and others who work closely with the county. Those panels will then provide recommendations to commissioners, who will interview the finalists Friday.

Commissioner Janet Rowland said she wants an administrator with a “pro-business perspective” and someone who will operate the county like a business. She said she prefers someone who has experience managing in larger local governments and county governments, in particular, although she wouldn’t necessarily be dissuaded by someone who has managed smaller local governments or in cities.

“I’m looking more for someone who has a lot of initiative, energy, (who is) willing to make changes,” she said.

Rowland said she hopes the finalists have taken the initiative to learn about the job and the county and will come into the interviews armed with suggestions and recommendations.

“I’m hoping they’ll have some ideas about economic development and those types of things,” she said.

For Commissioner Craig Meis, the biggest challenge facing the county is unemployment, which he said makes it critical for the next administrator to be able to partner with the private sector and other agencies. And while it’s not a prerequisite for him, he said he prefers a candidate whose prior work experience isn’t limited to the public realm.

“I certainly would prefer people with private-sector experience,” he said. “They have to have an understanding of government’s interaction with the private sector. We as government, in my opinion, sometimes forget that we work for the people, not the other way around.”

He said the county and its next administrator need to help, rather than hinder, private-sector investment.

As far as interpersonal skills, Meis said the next administrator should be someone who can get along with a variety of people and be tough but fair in his or her decision-making.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca didn’t return a call seeking comment for this story.

The four finalists for the county administrator post 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 in eastern Colorado.

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.

Donna Ross. Ross has worked for Mesa County for 17 years and is the acting director of regional 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.

The county is looking for a permanent replacement for Jon Peacock, who resigned last July to tend to personal family matters. Tom Papin has served as the interim administrator since January.

Commissioners hope to have a new administrator on board by early next month.


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