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04-07-14 Council comments on Hiring of Town Manager ,Su m; l(fLDe— £PC'DW �y b� 1 J STATEMENT REGARDING RECRUITMENT AND HIRING OF TH TOWN MANA ER i There has been a great deal of discussion lately,both in public and the press about the divisiveness of this Council. We should point out that on a great many issues this Council speaks with one voice. The most recent example is when,by a 5-0 vote,we confirmed the finding of the Community Development Director that Related's recent PUD amendment was a major one. However,on one issue this Council is clearly divided-the recruitment and selection of our current Town Manager. We feel it important that the Community fully understands how this process took place,how and when the divisiveness arose,and what we intend to do about it. When Russ Forrest tendered his resignation last summer,the first order of business was to hire an interim Town Manager. Applications were solicited and a number were received. After reviewing the applications and conducting a number of interviews,it was clear that Gary Suiter was the most qualified candidate. He had previously been the Town Manager,understood the issues facing the Town,and had, for the past 12 years acted,as a consultant,and interim town manager for municipalities throughout the state. Most importantly,he had experience dealing with major developers and developments-the major issue facing this town.He was unanimously approved as interim town manager. The next order of business was to select a permanent town manager. We hired a recruiter and began the process. In one of our early meetings we discussed the issue of whether the interim town manager should be allowed to apply for the position. The recruiter gave us the pros and cons of allowing an interim town manager to apply After a thorough discussion,we unanimously agreed that Gary could apply. The recruiter then solicited and received 150 applications for the position. To his credit,Gary's application was the 150th. He wanted to be sure that no qualified candidate would be intimidated or put off and not apply because of his participation The recruiter narrowed the list to 9 and the Council further narrowed it to 7. In mid November we interviewed all 7 candidates for roughly an hour each. After the interviews we ranked the candidates. Although each of us had a slightly different ranking order,the top three candidates were the top three in each of our rankings. Because there was not a candidate close to 4th in the rankings,we discussed the possibility of a finalist dropping out but agreed to proceed with the final slate of three. We then advised the candidates that they would need to return in approximately two weeks for final interviews with the Council,a citizens committee,a staff committee, and to attend a social function where the selected members of the public would have an opportunity to meet them. As time passed we started to get word that one of the candidates might not be able to meet the interview schedule. We discussed the possibility of postponing the interviews to try and accommodate his schedule. Our problem was there was no assurance from the candidate that he would be able to make to Snowmass for final interviews Additionally, by this time the interview committees and the other candidates had committed to the schedule. After thoroughly discussing the matter and realizing that we had all agreed that we had three qualified candidates and not a close 4th,we agreed to proceed with the two remaining and committed candidates. Final interviews with Council and the Citizen and Staff committees were held in mid-December. After all the interviews were completed we began our deliberations. We should point out, parenthetically, that we have been accused by a certain newspaper columnist of being remiss in not following the recommendation of the Citizens Committee as to the most appropriate candidate. We should point out that at no time during the course of our deliberations were we ever advised that the Citizens Committee had made a specific recommendation. We were informed as to what they and the staff committee felt were the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and nothing more. This should highlight the principle that newspaper columnists are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. As the deliberations progressed it started to become clear that there may be a division in the vote. Since it was Friday, John Dresser,who attended most of our meetings suggested that we go home, spend the weekend thinking about what had been said by all parties, and come back on Monday to complete the deliberations. That is what we did. When we returned on Monday it became readily apparent that the parties had become even more entrenched in their positions. Finally we took a straw vote.The vote was 3-2 in favor of Gary. We were in the majority; Councilmen Jacobsen and Haber were in the minority Suddenly and for the first time since the process started, Councilman Jacobsen asserted that the process was flawed,that Gary had an unfair advantage because he was the interim town manager, and that he should have never been allowed to participate in the process Also for the first time since the process started, Councilman Haber asserted that the pool was flawed in that we didn't have enough qualified candidates, and that we should start the process all over again. Clearly the minority was unhappy that the candidate they favored did not receive a majority of the votes That, however, is no reason to attempt to undermine or reverse a process that, up until that very moment, the minority had fully supported One doesn't get to change the rules of the game because one has lost. Yet that was precisely what the minority was trying to do. We suspect that had the candidate they favored received a majority of the votes, the process would have been fine and the pool perfect We spent the next several Executive Sessions, as well as numerous private conversations, trying to convince the minority that when we had a public vote, for the good of the Town Manager, the Council, and the town it would be best if they voted with the majority The minority was unmoved by any argument we made Thus when it came time for a public vote it remained 3-2. We can state, unequivocally, that had any two of us been in the minority we would have done our level best to convince the majority as to the correctness of our position. Failing that, for the reasons stated, the public vote would have been 5-0. The minority was not of a similar mind. Since Gary's appointment it appears to us the minority has attempted to publically humiliate, harass and antagonize him. Councilman Jacobsen has made two motions to terminate Gary's contract and two motions to start the search process over again. Those motions were seconded by Councilman Haber. Councilman Haber has made a motion to start the search process over again and that motion was seconded by Councilman Jacobsen. We assert that the only rational for making those motions was to humiliate, harass, and antagonize Gary because the minority knew full well that the motions had no chance of passing. They certainly couldn't have made those motions to reflect the will of the Community, because most people we have spoken to are quite happy with Gary and his performance Finally they didn't have to make the motions to let us know how they felt-we were well aware of their position. Shortly, we intend to initiate a discussion amending Gary's contract by extending it for a longer period of time. We invite the minority to join with us in that amendment. By doing so they and we can demonstrate our ability to put away past differences, and work together in and for the best interests of our Community If the minority cannot see their way clear to work with us,we implore them to desist from their harassing activities towards Gary and give him the opportunity to prove to them, our fellow citizens, and the New Town Council that will be seated this November, that he is the best person to be the Snowmass Town Manager. Respectfully, Bill Boineau - Mayor Markey Butler- Mayor Pro Tem Fred Kucker- Councilman Time Line of Town Manager Search Process Russ announced departure- May 31st 2013 RFP for Search Group-June 7 Russ leaves July 31 Gary starts August 1 Run through for 1st cut of 152 applicants to 9 October 28 Interviews for slate of 7-November 20 Final Interviews- December 11-12 Points to make 1)Staff-Gary's experience with the TOSV staff (+, -) He know the individuals and their skills The new department heads need a knowledgeable manager to help them understand the dynamics of their new positions in Snowmass Village New Public Works Director, New Community Development Director, New Marketing Director and a minority of Council members think we need to add to that "Newness Thing" The majority feels that would be a mistake We need stability of the professionalism of the running of this town The political side will do what it does .... naturally+,_ 2)Community-Gary knows of the communities current and future issues more than any other finalist we interviewed and selected as a finalist in our search. Gary is known in the community, he has many contacts/friends he has maintained by living in the valley Gary is well respected in the local communities he has worked. I have been approached by elected leaders from areas he has helped, which told me of positive gains they have seen through Gary's help and leadership, and we,the Town Of Snowmass Village would be making a mistake if we don't select him as our manager. Gary has worked at the state level with Colorado Municipal League, (CML)and their director Sam Mamet, has made similar remarks to me regarding Gary's skills and how well we would be attended to with Gary at the helm. 3) Development Challenges-Gary knows the players and challenges the Town of Snowmass Village is facing from developers more than anyone in the pool of candidates Gary has worked as an interim Town Manager for 12 years in communities that have been facing pressure from development and he has had good outcomes for those communities Gary had learned a number of strategies of managing communities while he was working in Snowmass Village for the 11+ years, and he has honed his skills and gained experience these past 12 years to add to his ability to be an exceptional manager for our Snowmass Village 4)Council Challenges - Gary is a professional manager. He is a strong manager. He knows there will be many personalities he will have to deal with He needs a strong council which set goals for communities priorities and works together to accomplish those goals Russ Forrest told me during the times he and I talked about his thinking about leaving and the majority of council trying to keep him here, he felt if he left the position and allowed someone else to be selected as manager, council would be able to come together and all would be right with the council I told him not to think he was so special, the council would still have issues between council members from time to time but he should do what he felt was best for him and his family Council members need to be able to have different opinions and agendas, but they need to be able to work together Gary has worked with many different groups of elected leaders and I think he has the skills to help us become a better equipped set of independent thinkers with the communities best interest at mind. I hope! We don't need to go through the search process again, we have the right person in the seat right now and we need to recognize it and all of us need to support the professionalism which the town is being led by Gary Suiter We are not going to be a better set of applicants the next time around. Most people in the field of town managers would look at our history of meetings on Granicus and stay away. So I ask the minority position of council, Will you work with us?