C’dale meets town manager finalists
CARBONDALE – Bombarded with questions from all sides, the four town manager finalists here each appeared comfortable, confident and ready to take the job if offered. The four candidates were on hand at Carbondale Town Hall Friday for a public meet-and-greet, one of the final steps before the Carbondale Board of Trustees makes its final cut, a decision that is scheduled to happen Friday evening. The candidates are (in alphabetical order) former Basalt town manager Tom Baker; current Carbondale acting town manager Bentley Henderson; Chuck Stearns, who recently resigned as Mount Crested Butte’s town manager; and Ed Young, administrator for Seward County, Kan.Tom BakerBaker, who oversaw 35 employees during his stint as town manager for Basalt, has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 21 years. “I have sort of a rounded background,” he said. “From planning and housing to growth management and transportation, I’ve worked on many of the issues that are important in the valley as a consultant and staff person over the past 21 years.”As a longtime valley resident, Baker knows a lot about the issues facing Carbondale and its residents. One of the biggest issues, he said, is the challenge of keeping Carbondale’s small-town flavor.”According to the community, making sure the place keeps its charm and small-town character is critical. That goes into every issue,” he said. Bentley HendersonHenderson has been the second banana here for four years and a staff member at the town since 1991. He’s hoping his local expertise will help him land the much sought-after town manager job. “As a longtime resident, I think that certainly plays a role,” he said. “I have a stake and I have a history and I kind of want to see things through.”Among the new town manager’s priorities will be the maintenance of a sound fiscal policy, he said. “We have to be very budget-conscious,” he said.He also said he’d like to help the town staff create a solid economic development plan.”I think it will act as a guiding policy,” he said. Chuck StearnsStearns, who resigned from his position as town manager of Crested Butte effective July 21, said he’s “geared to be a mountain community person.”Having worked in Mount Crested Butte, Boulder, Whitefish, Mont., and Missoula, Mont., he certainly has lived in and around the mountains a lot. “I fit in well with diverse populations,” he said. “I think Carbondale is a progressive mountain community.”Although he oversaw only about 20 employees in his most recent job – as compared to Carbondale’s 50-plus employees – he said he’s up for the challenge. “Missoula had 300 or 350; I’ve worked in large organizations,” he said. I still think that Carbondale, even with more employees, has a small-town feel.”He said one of his biggest priorities as town manager would be to help find a way to address the contentious issues that divide people. “I think from what I’ve heard and read, I’d like to restore some consensus in the community,” he said. Ed YoungYoung, the only out-of-state candidate, is also the youngest at 34. He spoke to local residents about how he’s done “some dynamic things to get Hispanics involved.””I have a variety of backgrounds,” he said. “I have a very strong planning and zoning background, I’m very strong with collaborative process and getting naysayers to come to meetings.”He said in a lot of ways, Liberal is similar to Carbondale. “Except for the beautiful mountains.”As manager of Seward County, Young oversees 200 employees. He said developing a vision of where Carbondale wants to go will be a great tool to help the town get there. “I think the biggest thing for the town board is to develop a clear vision of the future and take that vision and run with it.”Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comThe candidates:Tom Baker, 55, of BasaltBentley Henderson, 43, of CarbondaleChuck Stearns, 47, of Mount Crested ButteEd Young, 34, of Liberal, Kan.
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