Dillon selects Nathan Johnson of Scottsbluff as new town manager
DILLON — Nathan Johnson, the current city manager of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has been named Dillon’s new town manager.
Johnson will replace former Town Manager Tom Acre, who resigned in September for personal reasons following a near two-year stint at the post. Dillon’s Finance Director Carri McDonnell has been serving as the interim town manager while officials conducted the candidate search, and she will continue in the role until Johnson starts in early March.
“As many know, we had three finalists for the position, and we were really pleased to have such a strong pool of candidates,” said Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s marketing and communications director. “But Nathan’s breadth of experience rose to the top. … I think it’s really exciting he’s coming to us with quite a bit of municipal government experience.”
Johnson grew up outside of Dayton, Ohio, and attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he earned a degree in political science. He later moved back to Ohio, where he earned his master’s degree in public administration at Wright University. Johnson noted that even in school, he always had a passion for government work.
“What drew me into local government, specifically city management, is the ability to make communities better, to work with people and to be able to see the fruits of your labor,” Johnson said. “After a hard day’s work, you can look back and reflect on what you’ve accomplished, whether that’s internally or something tangible like creating different amenities in the community for the public to take advantage of.”
Johnson took his first job in government right out of school, serving as a management intern for the office of the city manager in Dublin, Ohio. He later moved to Scottsbluff, where he was groomed as assistant city manager for about three years before taking over as city manager almost four years ago.
Professionally, Johnson said the chance to take over the new position in Dillon would serve as a great opportunity to continue to further expand his skills and abilities as a manager.
“If you look at the town of Dillon, there’s a lot of great things going on,” Johnson said. “There’s a great staff in place, and there’s great plans they’ve been working on for years that are ready to be implemented. From a professional standpoint, to walk into a situation where you have a very engaged, very attentive and welcoming staff is critical in making a career choice like this. You want to walk into a situation that has everything in line so you can hit the ground running, and I think that’s what Dillon has in place.”
Johnson said he’s been going through agendas and minutes from past council meetings, along with ongoing town plans and developments to try and get up to speed on important town projects and initiatives as he transitions out of his position in Scottsbluff.
But Johnson emphasized that his decision to leave Nebraska for Summit County was largely influenced by family matters. His wife, Maddie, who serves as the math content area specialist for the Scottsbluff School District, is a Colorado native from Grand Junction. And Johnson said they’re looking forward to their three kids — ages 3, 2 and less than 1 year old — having access to all of the opportunities the area has to offer.
“We have family in Summit County and the Denver metro area,” Johnson said. “And more importantly, wanting to make sure our three young children have the amenities Summit County has to offer was really the tipping point for us. We want our kids to grow up being able to ski, hike, fish — you name it. We want them to have those experiences and get them away from being indoors and surrounded by electronics. … It’s really an opportunity for our children to have a more well-rounded upbringing.”
Dillon began the search for a new town manager in October and quickly narrowed the field to three finalists, including Johnson; Decorah, Iowa, City Manager Chad Bird; and Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky. The three attended a meet-and-greet with town officials and members of the public in November, and the council ultimately landed on Johnson, citing strong economic development experience and his history of thoughtfully ushering in development projects in his role in Scottsbluff, according to Anderson.
Johnson is expected to start sometime in early March, and he said he’s looking forward to touring the county’s breweries, exploring areas around the state with his family and getting to work on town projects.
“I think it’s important to build successful relationships where you can have open dialogue on what’s working and what’s not,” Johnson said. “So primarily coming into that role, my first goal is to listen: listen to the council, to the staff and to the community on what the needs, wants and desires are, and try to develop a game plan where we can move the community forward together in a progressive nature.”
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