City hall

The city of Aspen is seeking a new city manager for the first time in 20 years.

For the first time in more than 20 years the city of Aspen has an opening posted for a new city manager. After weeks spent finalizing a recruitment brochure, the job is live through the website of headhunters Peckham & McKenney.

Before posting the job, the description had to be approved by the sitting city council. Incoming council members, city staff and the public also had a chance to weigh in on the attributes of an ideal candidate.

“The authentic and candid feedback that helped build the candidate profile was a testament to the community and the public’s level of engagement with this process,” Alissa Farrell, interim assistant city manager and human resources director, wrote in a press release Tuesday.

Drew Gorgey is leading the search for the recruitment firm. He told city council members last month that the goal was to have the job description prepared by May 24.

“If we miss that by a day or two please don’t freak out, it’s normal, things happen,” Gorgey said. “It won’t impact the search at all, so if we run into the next week please be patient.”

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While the final edits took longer than the original timeline, the final date to submit applications, July 8, is unchanged. The four-page glossy brochure begins with a summary of Aspen, calling it beautiful and prestigious. It also gives an overview of the general position.

“The city manager is responsible for ensuring implementation of council’s priorities and provides thoughtful and effective management of the city’s daily operations,” the brochure states.

The brochure emphasizes the need for the city manager to relate to both year-round and seasonal residents, and stresses leadership and political acumen.  

“The city manager will need political wisdom, robust analytical skills, a resilient nature, and the ability to manage complex and stressful situations,” the brochure says.

In his summary to council regarding public outreach last month, Gorgey said that communication and transparency were brought up often. The hiring comes at a time when city council has been criticized for pushing through policies without consulting the public, and all incumbents running for office were defeated. The job posting, however, does not specifically list communication skills, through it stresses the outward-facing aspects of the job.

“The city manager is a public servant, a collaborative problem solver, skilled listener and a champion of a transparent and customer-service-oriented government.”

The city announced last week that it has hired Tracey Truelove to take on the role of communications director, a position created partially in response to the recent criticism regarding government communication. Truelove has overseen local communications for the Colorado Department of Transportation for the last six years.

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Former city manager Steve Barwick had been in his leadership role since 1999. He resigned in January. In a letter to the public after his resignation he wrote that a good city manager must “never, ever seek or accept credit for any organizational success, and always accept the blame when things go wrong. I accept full responsibility for every fumble.”

The salary range for the incoming city manager is $180,000 to $214,000, with an additional performance bonus of up to $1,650. The compensation package also includes health, life and disability insurance, plus 30 days of paid vacation including holidays.

Incoming councilmember Rachel Richards and incoming Mayor Torre have both voiced their thoughts that the upper end of the salary range is too high. Hiring and negotiations are expected in August or September, and will be carried out by the new council, which also includes Skippy Mesirow, Ann Mullins, and Ward Hauenstein.

Along with the candidate profile, the job posting includes links to the Aspen Area Community Plan and the city’s website. Interested applicants need only submit a resume and cover letter for the first round. Gorgey will interview top candidates during July, and recommend a handful of standouts to be interviewed by city council in August.

Peckham & McKenney will send out the candidate profile nationwide and target specific contacts.

Alycin Bektesh is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at Alycin@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @alycinwonder.