Council candidates weigh in on a city manager’s contract |

Council candidates weigh in on a city manager’s contract

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

With the May 5 election of City Council members, this week The Aspen Times profiles the nine candidates ” Michael Behrendt, Adam Frisch, Derek Johnson, incumbents Jack Johnson and Jackie Kasabach, Jason Lasser, Brian Daniel Speck, Torre and Michael Wampler ” in their own words. The feature will run through Friday: Today’s question: If elected, would you support an employment contract for City Manager Steve Barwick?

No. The city manager and the city attorney are the only two employees who are hired by, and serve at the pleasure of the City Council. Traditionally neither receives a contract. Barwick has served for 15 years with no contract. Past councils and mayors have praised him highly and kept him on. The city manager either pleases the council or he doesn’t. When asked Friday by me if no contract presented a problem, the manager indicated clearly it did not. I believe people may be blaming the manager for bad council decisions and indecision. We will see.

For the good of the community, the city manager position needs a contract; if structured properly, it protects our community as well as the employee. There should be measurable goals, objectives and the ability to remove the employee for poor performance if needed. A contract also enables the city manager to have a long-term focus on the needs of our community. The vast majority of city manager positions across the nation have contracts. Aspen’s should as well to retain and/or attract the best qualified person. Concerning Mr. Barwick personally, I do not believe it is appropriate to comment on a specific employee in this forum.

Yes. The position of city manager in my opinion requires an employment contract to allow this person to more effectively do his or her job. In my view, the city manager is the “CEO” of our town and needs to feel comfortable communicating positions and ideas to the mayor and council, including the expression of differing or alternative viewpoints. The contract should be “performance based” with clearly defined expectations and goals. The contract and performance of the city manager should be reviewed annually.

I certainly would. Aspen needs the contract far more than Steve does ” he would easily find another job and most likely with one of our competitors ” not smart people. But we will find it very difficult to replace a city manager as intelligent, committed and talented. I have complete faith in Steve Barwick and the citizens of Aspen should too.

I support employment contracts for both city manager and city attorney. This is standard operating procedure for executives in both private and public businesses. It provides clear benefits and safeguards for both employer and employee. Any contract must be subject to regular performance reviews and goal setting ” actions which are currently in place with all city employees. From my perspective, this policy is position related and not specific to any one individual.

This is a very touchy question for me as a former Community Development Department special projects planner. If he has a contract, every employee should have a contract (with conditions, clauses, etc., what’s the difference ” from not having a contract ” for performance?)

Yes, I think it is very important for employee and employers to have clear expectations and agreements. A contract is respectful and to the benefit of both parties. Expectations, salary and termination clauses all should be utilized for clarity.

If elected, I could support a performance-based contract for the city manager position with Mr. Barwick and future managers. A performance-based contract is the best way to concisely outline the job expectations and the responsibilities the manager needs to fulfill. A performance-based contract can be mutually beneficial. With such a contract, there is accountability and a conveyance of the tools for success. Aspen’s city manager has a challenging role; we demand as much or more of our chief administrator as any city many times our size. Because of Aspen’s goals to lead the way on so many fronts like housing, environment, transportation, historical preservation and more, we need to define the scope of the job and set appropriate parameters for an all-too-often over-stretched city government.

Yes, with qualifications. I feel a complete review of the city manager’s past three years is in order along with a department by department analysis. If an audit confirms that his overall performance is worthy of continued employment then an employment contract is to be considered. However, if a contract is offered there needs to be a specific time frame, defined performance goals, yearly reviews, and no termination consideration or severance package.

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