Dillon town manager finalists meet with residents
DILLON — Dillon officials hosted a meet and greet with the finalists for the open town manager position on Wednesday evening, inviting residents to Town Hall for a chance to get to know the applicants.
Dillon staff has been searching for a new town manager since the departure of Tom Acre, who served in the role since 2017 and resigned for personal reasons in September. Dillon Finance Director Carri McDonnell has been filling in as the town manager in the interim, though with the field of qualified candidates narrowed to just three, the town is nearing the end of its search.
On Wednesday evening, community members gathered inside the council chambers to connect with the candidates for the first time. The candidates — Chad Bird, Nathan Johnson and Mike Kosdrosky — were each given a few minutes to address the modest crowd, and took part in an informal mingling session to answer questions and discuss issues with residents.
Guests in attendance at the event were also asked to fill out feedback cards for the town council to consider before hiring one of the applicants, a process that likely won’t take much longer. Kerstin Anderson, the town’s marketing and communications director, noted the town could name someone to the position as early as next week.
Chad Bird was the first to speak. Bird currently works as the city manager for Decorah, Iowa — a college town of about 8,100 — where he’s served for the past eight years. Though he’s been in municipal government for about 20 years.
Bird said he got his start working with Indiana University, where he was heavily involved in managing high-level athletic facilities in Indianapolis, a move that helped to springboard him into a parks and recreation department director position in the city of DeWitt, Iowa. In 2005, he took on a role as city administrator in Adel, Iowa, a small town of about 3,500, before joining Decorah’s city manager’s department.
Bird pointed to collaboration as one of his strongpoints as a community leader, noting if he gets the job he’d begin looking for major employers and influencers in the community to partner on projects with, though he cautioned trying to move things forward too quickly.
“I think teamwork is very important,” Bird said. “As we look to move the community forward we need to do that as a team. One of my core philosophies in that approach with my department heads is let’s take care of what we have before we start looking too far down the road at new things. What is our current infrastructure, and how do we maintain that? How do we build on the relationships we currently have as a cornerstone of what we’re doing before we start expanding, and growing beyond our abilities?”
Mike Kosdrosky was the next to give his thoughts on the position. Kosdrosky has been serving as the executive director of the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority for almost five years, an organization boasting the largest workforce-housing program in North America.
In all, Kosdrosky has more than 25 years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors, including work in federal, state and local governments. Most notably, he formerly served as the economic development policy adviser for the Ohio Governor’s Office, and the assistant city manager for North Royalton, Ohio, a city of 30,000.
Kosdrosky lauded the town for its engaged citizens, and said his experience dealing with issues surrounding housing and other issues in the Western Slope would transfer well from Pitkin County to Dillon.
“I’ve worked with a lot of stakeholders in Summit County in the five years I’ve been executive director of the Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority,” Kosdrovsky said. “I have a good relationship with a lot of the players and partners here in Summit, and I think they do a good job. So that experience does translate, because we’re all facing the same problems. The issues we’re facing aren’t endemic to the Roaring Fork Valley, and they’re certainly facing Summit County and communities like Dillon.”
Nathan Johnson was the final candidate to take the podium. Johnson currently serves as the city manager of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a panhandle city of more than 15,000, where he’s been for the last seven years.
Johnson has spent his entire career in municipal government. He began as a management intern for Office of the City Manager in Dublin, Ohio, before taking on a position as assistant city manager in Scottsbluff. After about three years of being groomed for the position, Johnson took over as the Scottsbluff city manager in 2016.
Johnson said he was attracted to the position in Dillon in part because of family roots in Colorado — his wife is from Grand Junction — and was looking forward to helping the town push forward with their goals and priorities into the future.
“We see this as a great opportunity to grow our family,” Johnson said. “More importantly from a professional aspect, you’re walking into a situation where you have all the key staff and the key people on board. You have plans in place, you have the vision and the drive. Now we’ve just got to push it a little further. I can be that facilitator to help drive some of those visions from the staff level, bring that forward to the city council and hopefully implement some of these plans. It might take time, but I think that by being creative and creating partnerships we can conquer anything.”
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