Three city manager hopefuls to go on parade in Glenwood |

Three city manager hopefuls to go on parade in Glenwood

Today is a big day for the three people vying to be Glenwood Springs’ next city manager.

Gunnison city manager Mark Collins, Basalt deputy town manager Betsy Suerth and Winnetka, Ill., village manager Douglas Williams will be in town today for interviews with the Glenwood Springs City Council.

Then, from 5-6:30 p.m., all three candidates will be on hand at the Community Center for a public meet-and-greet.

Each of the candidates shared some insights with the Post Independent as to why he or she should be the next city manager of Glenwood Springs. (Candidate interviews are in alphabetical order).

Mark Collins

Mark Collins has been the city manager of Gunnison for eight years. He was previously the town manager of Grand Lake.

Collins said he loves Gunnison’s Western flavor and he’s proud of the things he’s accomplished there, but being the city manager of Glenwood Springs was too good of a chance to pass up.

“My family and I have always had the highest regard for Glenwood Springs,” he said. “We’ve vacationed there and have friends there and each February I attend the city manager conference there.”

“I think there are a lot of similarities between the communities,” he said of Gunnison and Glenwood Springs.

Each city thrives on tourism as its No. 1 industry; each city has its own electric distribution system; each city has its own broadband Internet system ” although Gunnison’s cost a paltry $100,000 to install, while the cost of installing Glenwood Springs’ system is closing in on $4 million and still growing; both cities abound with outdoor activities; and both cities are gateways to flourishing ski towns.

Collins also said his experience working with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Legislature and his familiarity with the state’s laws and tax codes will give him a leg up if he’s chosen as city manager for Glenwood Springs.

“I really enjoy being a city manager. I think we do a lot of wonderful things for people,” Collins said. “I think there’s a lot of personal and professional satisfaction being in a management position.”

In fact, Collins even teaches a master’s class on public administration for the University of Colorado’s outreach program.

“I think we’re doing things well here in Gunnison; we’re a full-service community,” Collins said.

Elizabeth Suerth

As a deputy town manager in Basalt since 2001, Elizabeth “Betsy” Suerth said she’d bring knowledge of the Roaring Fork Valley with her if she is hired as Glenwood Springs’ next city manager.

“First of all, I live in Glenwood,” she said. “I feel I can make a difference in a position like this.”

“I think living anywhere in the valley and taking a job anywhere in the valley, you bring your bias, but also you might bring in valued familiarity.”

Suerth applied for the Basalt town manager position when former manager Tom Baker announced his resignation, but Bill Efting ” who was most recently Glenwood’s parks and recreation director ” got the job.

Her credentials include assembling Basalt’s River Master Plan. She was the facilitator of a large citizen group, as well as local, state and federal agencies when that document came together.

“They came to a consensus and all the decisions made by the committee went into a large document called the River Master Plan,” she said.

Suerth oversees Basalt’s public works and building departments, creating what she called a “horizontal management structure” in both.

“Workers have higher accountability, responsibility and they can make their own decisions on day-to-day tasks,” she said.

She said the system has been very successful in Basalt, but she acknowledges it only works in some places.

“I feel I’m familiar with Glenwood,” she said.

But if she gets the city manager job, she said she’d take plenty of time learning about the system before she started tinkering with it.

Suerth said she learned a lot from Baker’s tutelage.

“Tom was key in our day-to-day operations here, but he never micromanaged,” she said. “He’s been an invaluable mentor.

“I feel the community and staff have been very lucky to have been guided by him,” she added.

Doug Williams

Doug Williams, village manager of Winnetka, Ill., grew up in western Colorado ” Meeker to be exact. So when he saw the Glenwood Springs city manager job opening, he figured it would be a great opportunity to get back to his roots.

“I even marched in the Strawberry Days festival,” he said, referring to his youth. “I have a deep appreciation for the area.”

He played football in Glenwood Springs while in high school.

But it’s been a while since he’s lived here. He’s been the city manager of Winnetka since 1992 and he was the city manager of Ellensburg, Wash., and Highland, Ill., before that.

Williams graduated from the University of Colorado with a master’s degree in public administration and has since put 30 years of experience in that field under his belt, the most of the three candidates.

Each of the towns he’s managed has run its own electric system, so he’s familiar with the intricacies of the power business. Williams also said if he’s hired, he’d look forward to the challenges that lay ahead, such as finding a way to turn around the city’s falling sales tax revenues.

“That would keep me challenged and interested,” he said.

Williams also wants to be closer to his dad, who still resides in Meeker.

Timing for a choice

Council could make its final decision on who will get the job offer at its next regular meeting on Feb. 17, Glenwood Springs human resources director Sabrina Hoffmeister said in January.

Her plan is to then bring in the new city manager a few weeks before Copp retires so he can help the new manager with a transition that hasn’t occurred in the 20 years Copp has held the job.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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