Glenwood names three city manager finalists
Glenwood Springs City Council has narrowed the field of candidates to become the next city manager to three finalists.
Not among them is acting city manager Andrew Gorgey, the former Garfield County manager who took the interim position late last year after council decided to part ways with former longtime city manager Jeff Hecksel.
Gorgey confirmed Friday that he had considered applying when the city began its search earlier this year, but ultimately decided not to so he could focus on the interim task.
The three finalists are Debra Figueroa, current assistant borough manager in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Joe Hannan, former city manager in Palmer, Alaska; and James Nichols, former manager for Douglas County, Nevada, in the city of Minden, the Glenwood council announced in a Friday afternoon news release.
According to the release, after reviewing resumes and cover letters of more than 20 qualified applicants, council conducted remote interviews with six candidates, narrowing the pool to the three finalists.
The public is invited to meet the finalists from 7 to 9 p.m. next Thursday, April 28, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. Council and city staff will also conduct in-person interviews with the candidates while they are in town.
“We were thrilled with the quality of candidates attracted to Glenwood Springs and are excited to bring the three top candidates to meet with our community,” Mayor Mike Gamba said in the news release.
“Each candidate offers something unique and we are looking forward to introducing them to the community and hearing your thoughts about them,” he said in encouraging the public to be involved.
Figueroa has a strong background in city administration and community development, including her current role as assistant borough manager in Carlisle, according to the release.
Her current responsibilities include lead project manager for the redevelopment of two closed factories that comprise over 50 acres of contaminated land in the outer core of downtown Carlisle.
She also oversees water and sewer plants, volunteer fire departments, parks and recreation, community development, downtown parking operations, police union negotiations and information technology.
Prior to her current position, Figueroa was in charge of community development and strategic planning in 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. Figueroa holds a master’s degree in political science with an emphasis on public policy from the University of Florida.
Hannan has been a city manager for more than 20 years in Oregon, Washington and Alaska, and has experience in urban renewal, enterprise zone, entrepreneurship, and water and wastewater utilities.
The city release notes that Hannan has had success in building city facilities and solving longstanding community challenges in infrastructure, finance and policy. He also was instrumental in the transition of a rural fire department into something more urban.
As city manager of Fife, Washington, he worked in an agricultural community that had been transformed into a warehouse district for the Port of Tacoma.
As a young man, Hannan served as an intern for former California Gov. Ronald Reagan before Reagan became the 40th president of the United States.
He also served in the U.S. Army, eventually retiring as a lieutenant colonel. While serving in the Army, Hannan worked to set up Bosnia’s first election and worked as press officer for Bill Clinton’s presidential visit to Bosnia, the release also notes.
Hannan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from and attended graduate studies in public policy at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Nichols is a municipal executive with more than 16 years in local government management. His expertise is in public works, engineering, public safety, community services, parks and recreation, development review processes, performance management and capital improvement programs, according to the city’s release.
Nichols was county manager of Douglas County, Nevada, until January. He has also held positions as assistant city manager in Midland, Texas, deputy city manager in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Goodyear, Arkansas, public works director in Surprise, Arizona, and Chehalis, Washington, and project engineer in Olympia, Washington.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from University of Connecticut. He earned the designation of credentialed manager from the International City/County Management Association, and is a licensed professional engineer in Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
Interim contract extended
At its Thursday meeting, council unanimously agreed to extend the interim contract for Gorgey through June 30, and to increase his pay for the next two months from $10,000 to $12,500.
“I am very proud of the work we have done since December, and I will continue my work in this position and serve council for as long as they’ll have me,” Gorgey told the Post Independent.
Gamba commended Gorgey for his work in the interim.
“He has done a very good job moving a lot of different issues forward, and I applaud Drew for that,” Gamba said, adding council could make a decision on a new city manager in May, but that it’s unlikely whoever is chosen would be able to start before the end of June.
Gorgey was selected for the interim position in December, when council decided to let Hecksel go nine months before his contract would have ended.
Council decided last August not to renew Hecksel’s rolling two-year contract, giving him one year’s notice at the time but allowing him to stay on as spelled out in his employment agreement with the city.
However, with numerous large projects pending, many related to the state’s Grand Avenue bridge replacement, council ultimately decided to let Hecksel go under a severance deal and brought Gorgey on in the interim.
Gorgey had been Garfield County manager since 2012 and county attorney for several months prior to that. County commissioners decided last year to sever ties with Gorgey, but gave him a favorable recommendation for re-employment.
Hecksel, who had been in the Glenwood city manager’s position for 11 years, also had been given a favorable recommendation at the time of his departure.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.