Cortez chooses finalists for city manager position

Monday, May 28, 2018 10:05 PM
Shane Hale holds up a bobblehead doll made to look like him, a farewell present from the city of Cortez. The city has narrowed down the search for his replacement to five finalists.

The city of Cortez has narrowed down its list of candidates for city manager to five, including the current Public Works director.

On Wednesday, the city released the names of four finalists: John Dougherty, Timothy Dodge, Mark Campbell and Phil Johnson. Human Resources Director Matt Cashner is waiting for confirmation on a fifth candidate. A new city manager will be chosen after a series of interviews with the City Council and hiring committees, scheduled to start June 4.

The candidates were narrowed down during an executive City Council session on May 15. Mayor Karen Sheek said the council received roughly 30 applications for the job and chose the finalists based on how well their experience matched Cortez’s needs.

“We were looking for somebody who had experience in public service, and we were also looking ... to see where that experience had been,” she said.

The three finalists who have worked as city managers have all served in towns smaller than Cortez. Sheek said the council considered the budgets they managed, the number of employees they supervised and notable achievements.

Dougherty has served as city administrator and manager of Hebron, Ohio; Oconto Falls and Reedsburg, Wisconsin; and most recently, Kingman, Arizona. The city of about 30,000 had a general fund budget of $29 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The Kingman City Council voted not to renew Dougherty’s contract last fall after he had spent about four years on the job, according to the town’s newspaper, The Daily Miner. He had been fired from his previous position in Reedsburg in 2011, according to the Reedsburg Times-Press.

Dodge is the current city manager of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, a tourism-focused town of about 3,000 people with an annual budget of about $8.5 million. He has worked there since 2014, after leaving a position as manager of Las Vegas, New Mexico. According to the release, “he has overseen dramatic growth in the city’s lodgers tax as well as diversifying the economy.” He is a member of the International City Manager Association.

Campbell, originally from Northern Ireland, has worked as city manager of La Grange, Missouri, and is the current manager of Kremmling, Colorado, which has a population of just over 1,000. He has also been considered as a finalist for the open town administrator position in Palisade, according to The Daily Sentinel. According to the release, his accomplishments include securing $4 million in grants and increasing sales tax revenue in Kremmling by promoting tourism-focused businesses. Kremmling’s 2018 budget included about $1.2 million in the general fund.

Johnson, Cortez’s Public Works director, is the only final candidate with no city manager experience. He has worked for the city since 2014, Cashner said. Before being hired as Public Works director, he worked as a business owner and as assistant utilities manager for the Southern Ute Tribe. He has overseen several major construction projects in Cortez, including the remodel of City Hall and several street improvements.

Cashner said the fifth city manager candidate wants to speak with his current employer before going public with his Cortez application. He said he expects to hear from him on Tuesday. The City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the interview process and set a date for the public open house, which will give Cortez residents a chance to meet the finalists.

Former City Manager Shane Hale’s last day on the job was Tuesday. Interim manager Chris Burkett has taken over his responsibilities while the city searches for a permanent replacement.