Residents meet candidates for Frisco town manager
FRISCO – Frisco Town Council gave residents an opportunity to meet the five candidates for town manager at a public reception Friday.
In addition to allowing residents to question the candidates, the informal reception allowed council members to watch the candidates interact with their constituents and the community, Frisco community relations director Linda Lichtendahl said.
Most town staff and residents said the most important qualities for a town manager are leadership, experience and communication skills.
“No. 1 is leadership qualities,” said interim town manager Tim Mack, “and being a consensus builder with council and the community.”
“We need a good leader and a good communicator with a breadth of skills in management,” Community Development Director Amy Ito said.
Town officials asked recruiting consultant George Slavin to find candidates who had experience managing small, resort towns, Lichtendahl said.
“We’re looking for experience not just in managing a town,” Mayor pro-tem Dede Dighero-Tuso said. “It’s having knowledge of the resort industry. Everything Vail (Resorts) and Intrawest does affects it.”
The most pressing issues for town staff and residents are sales tax generation once Target opens in Silverthorne, recreation development and attainable housing.
“The first is the tax base and the effects of other big boxes (stores),” Frisco resident Art Burger believes. “The second is recreational development – the peninsula and the marina – and third is housing. The town manager has to have capability and competency – experience in those areas.”
Responsible growth is another issue on people’s minds. The town manager needs to ensure progress through organized growth, said Frisco resident Gary Runkle.
Residents also want a person who can be a team player to manage the town.
“He has to work with council – not going along with absolutely everything, but so all officials work together instead of being in little factions,” Frisco resident Mary Runkle said.
“He has to be a people person and be a good manager,” Frisco resident Marilyn Burger said. “He has to be outgoing, willing to meet and work with people who are amateurs. It’s hard to get those qualities wrapped into two.”
Plus, a good town manager needs a sense of humor, because it’s a tough job, Frisco resident Chris Eby said.
At the reception, candidates had a chance to explain their strengths to the community.
Candidate Alan Briley, village manager and treasurer of Ruidoso, N.M., has 10 years of experience in town management. He said the issues Frisco faces are similar to Ruidoso.
“Frisco is a town my town wants to be someday,” Briley said. “Managing it should be easier, because it has already grown.”
Candidate Robert Elliott brings 30 years of experience in city management and the knowledge of how other communities have wrestled with issues similar to those Frisco faces, he said. He currently is the chief operating officer for the Michigan Road Commission.
Candidate Jay Harrington brings 12 years of experience in local government, and as a result, has good relationships with officials throughout Colorado. Harrington is the town administrator/manager for Pagosa Springs in southern Colorado.
He’s familiar with small communities and mountain living and understands the ripple effect a drought could have on Summit County, he said.
Candidate Don Taylor has 18 years of experience with communities such as Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge. Taylor is the director of financial services for Steamboat Springs. He served as assistant town manager for Breckenridge from 1998 until 2000.
“I understand the people and the values in resort towns,” Taylor said.
Candidate James Thomas has been in town management for seven years, working in communities that have debated public policy issues. He has been the village manager of Whitefish Bay, Wis. since 2000.
“I bring the experience of dealing with complicated issues,” Thomas said. He also has brought in economic development and gone through the process of hiring a police chief, which Frisco will soon be replacing, he said.
Mayor Bob Moscatelli has asked Slavin to gather more information on the candidates before he and the council members make further decisions regarding the candidates.
Moscatelli said he did not know when the information requested would be available.
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