Figueroa to become new Glenwood Springs city manager |

Figueroa to become new Glenwood Springs city manager

Debra Figueroa
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Debra Figueroa, the current assistant borough manager in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with a background in community development, has been selected to become Glenwood Springs’ new city manager.

Figueroa and the Glenwood City Council have agreed on a two-year contract at $135,000 per year. That’s about $4,100 more per year than former City Manager Jeff Hecksel was making at the end of his 11-year tenure before City Council decided last year not to renew his contract.

Figueroa, 39, is set to start on June 13, and is busy making plans to move to Glenwood with her husband, Dylan, and their 9-year-old daughter, Tessa.

“I’m very excited to get there and start working,” she told the Post Independent by phone Monday evening.

“Glenwood Springs has a lot of potential and some upcoming challenges that I believe can create some opportunities for a revitalized downtown,” she said in reference to the Grand Avenue bridge project in particular.

“The city of Glenwood Springs is an outstanding city with a dedicated and passionate city council, staff and community,” Figueroa said in a prepared statement sent out by the city Monday afternoon.

“Working together, we will ensure that the many challenges ahead will lead to a more vibrant and sustainable city,” she said.

Figueroa was one of two finalists for the position, along with former Douglas County, Nevada, manager James Nichols. Both candidates interviewed for the position in late April during a visit to Glenwood Springs.

A third finalist, Joe Hannan, the former city manager in Palmer, Alaska, dropped out of contention before the interviews after accepting another job.

Figueroa brings a strong background in city administration and community development, including management positions in Florida and Oregon and her current role in Carlisle.

“Debra has the ideal skill set to guide our city’s many unique opportunities — including the Grand Avenue bridge and its related projects,” Mayor Mike Gamba said in the city’s news release.

Those projects include the planned Sixth Street improvements, the remaining Seventh Street improvements, the Eighth Street connection and the eventual redevelopment of the river confluence area west of the core downtown area, he said.

Andrew Gorgey, the former Garfield County manager, has been serving as acting city manager since Hecksel’s departure. Initially, Gorgey considered putting in for the permanent position but opted not to in order to focus on the interim tasks.

“We sincerely appreciate and want to thank Andrew Gorgey for stepping in as interim manager,” Gamba said. “He has been the consummate professional and has displayed true integrity over these last six months.”

Figueroa was previously in charge of community development and strategic planning for the city of Sarasota, Florida. She also served as a management analyst in the city manager’s office in Salem, Oregon, and as the assistant to the city manager in Sarasota.

Though born in New York, she grew up in St. Augustine, Florida.

Figueroa also has a background working on affordable housing issues, primarily in Florida, and said she can bring some ideas to the table as Glenwood Springs officials grapple with a shortage of middle-income housing.

“There are a lot of different tools that can be used, such as inclusionary zoning and various types of tax credits,” she said. “I don’t know what tools are right for Glenwood Springs, but I do know there are some options out there that we can take a look at.”

She and her family plan to find a place to rent in Glenwood Springs before looking at longer-term housing. Figueroa said she also looks forward to the many outdoor recreational opportunities the area has to offer and “small-town ambiance” of Glenwood.

Figueroa holds a master’s degree in political science with an emphasis on public policy from the University of Florida.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.