Sole finalist gets nod for county post
Interim administrator picked to take position permanently
Mesa County commissioners seemingly don’t have much of a choice to make when it comes to selecting the next county administrator from the official list of finalists for the job.
Only one candidate made the final list that was announced Monday: Interim County Administrator Tom Fisher.
The announcement of a final list of candidates triggers a statutory 14-day waiting period, after which commissioners can enter into a contract with Fisher to name him permanently to the job.
“I’m excited that they have the confidence in me to do this,” said Fisher, who has been employed by Mesa County since November 2001, first as director of the Regional Transportation Planning Office, and subsequently as regional services director, and most recently as internal services director.
“Personally, from a private sector viewpoint, I enjoy that we have a candidate from within, who has the respect of staff and (other elected officials),” said Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who along with John Justman was seated to the board this past January.
“Both John and I are new, and we’ve never been through the budget process. So having someone that has been here for 11 years — in the organization and been through plenty of budget processes, and is currently working on how to revamp the budget process to make it better — is huge,” she said.
Pugliese added that she was impressed by Fisher’s approach to helping the current board forge a strategic plan for the future, opting to start fresh rather than putting forth the vision crafted by previous commissioners.
“We are a new board, with different perspective. So I thought that was great,” she said.
No outside candidates were interviewed for the job, and no other county employee other than Fisher applied for the position, Pugliese said.
Commissioners made the announcement of the one-candidate list of finalists after meeting in executive session at the tail end of their regular Monday public meeting.
“The board had a good, thorough discussion — and shared our various analyses of the different applicants,” Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said after the closed-door executive session.
“The decision to designate Tom Fisher as the sole finalist was a unanimous decision, and I believe all three board members felt very strongly about that direction,” he said.
Fisher currently is paid around $117,000 a year, a salary bumped up slightly when he was named to the interim administrator job Jan. 22 — the day the board abruptly terminated its employment contract with previous county administrator Chantal Unfug. Unfug’s salary was $125,000.
Many of Fisher’s weekends are spent in Utah, as he’s also a brigade commander with the Utah National Guard. He was named a full colonel at the end of January.
Regarding his guard service and concurrent employment with the county, Fisher on Monday reiterated something he’s said many times before.
“It’s always worked out very well, and Mesa County has always been accommodating,” he said.
During his term of employment with the county, Fisher spent a full year serving in Iraq and another year studying at the prestigious U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania.