Former town manager returns as consultant | AspenTimes.com

Former town manager returns as consultant

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Like many meetings designed to foster dialogue between a local government and a group of “stakeholders,” this one started with everybody in the room taking a moment to say who they were and what their affiliation was.

When it was Gary Suiter’s turn, everybody in the room probably knew who he was, but few may have known why he was there.

After 11 years as the Snowmass Village town manager, Suiter was fired in December by the Town Council.

His last day on the job was three days before one of the biggest land-use applications in the town’s history, the Base Village project, was filed by the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest.

Last Friday, Suiter was back at a meeting organized by the town, albeit in a new role.

The meeting was called by the town to try and find out if the owners of the Snowmass Village mall wanted to work more closely with Intrawest and the town in creating a “vital and vibrant” commercial core that included both the mall and the proposed Base Village project, which includes new commercial space.

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Suiter was there in his new role as a consultant. He had been retained by Mary Brown, the former mayor of Steamboat Springs and a government relations specialist with Intermountain Corporate Affairs.

“I’m in a supportive role,” Suiter said in a recent interview. “I’m briefing Mary on who the players are. I’m an information source.”

Suiter’s return to Snowmass Village as a consultant advising private sector clients is not unusual, at least in the sense that many staff members and elected officials leave the public sector and find work offering advice and insight to clients on how to work with the system.

Though it has been only five months since he left the town’s employ, Suitor does not appear to have violated the state’s “revolving door” statute. That law prohibits former government employees from working for a firm that has a contract with the town government.

Suiter, however, has been retained by Intermountain Corporate Affairs, which is not being paid by the town. The company has been hired by private-sector clients who own commercial real estate on the mall.

Suiter is working as subcontractor with Intermountain and said the firm’s role is to try and bring Intrawest and the mall owners closer together on a plan to make sure both the mall and the new commercial center in Base Village succeed.

Suiter has also formed his own consulting firm called Assent Consulting. That’s “assent” as in “to agree to something especially after thoughtful consideration.”

“I’m busy,” said Suiter, who also has town/county manager experience in Evans, Colo., and Alamosa County, as well as a master’s degree in public administration.

His first consulting contract was with the city of Aspen, which asked him to prepare a report and a presentation to the City Council on a new trend called “policy governance,” which is designed to help boards be more effective.

Shortly after that, Suiter landed a contract with the town of Salida to serve as an interim town manager and to help recruit someone to fill the position full time.

The irony that one of his first assignments upon being suspended as a town manager was to hire another town manager was not lost on Suiter.

“I’ve hired lots of people in my career,” said Suiter. “And they needed help with executive recruitment.”

In the future, Suiter hopes to work with developers to help them work with different communities on land-use applications.

“I could be a positive influence in working with communities and developers in delivering quality land-use projects,” said Suiter. “That’s my background. That’s my training.”

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