Housing post all `locked up,’ says applicant | AspenTimes.com

Housing post all `locked up,’ says applicant

Sarah S. Chung

A former city official seeking a job as the new executive director of the Housing Authority claims the hiring process may be stacked against him.

“I don’t care about the results, but I want this to see more daylight,” said Jake Vickery, who left office this week as a city councilman and has applied for the housing position soon to be vacated by Dave Tolen. “I’m so tired of everything being hidden, of people working the inside track.”

In particular, Vickery contends that Mary Richards, the current assistant director, has the job “locked up.”

Nonsense, counters Tolen, to the allegation that Richards was hired last September with the director’s position in mind.

“When we hired her, I might have mentioned that I wouldn’t be around forever, but no promises were made,” Tolen said. “I think it’s important to build inter-office leadership and she is someone capable of leading. As in any organization a sense of continuity can be an asset, but if she’s hired it will be entirely on her own merits.”

In about two weeks, Tolen will step down as director of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. There were 22 applicants for his post, but the field of potential successors has since been narrowed to seven or eight candidates.

If a new executive director is not hired by June 30, Richards will serve as interim director with Tolen staying on as a consultant until the formal transition is made.

The seven-member housing board, made up of city and county representatives, helped winnow the original set of applications. Later this month, the finalists will be interviewed by a smaller group made up of housing board members and representatives of the city and county managers’ offices.

According to Tolen, applicants will be judged on various criteria, including: housing experience, an understanding of local housing issues, experience managing an organization and supervising employees, effectiveness in dealing with public officials, and an ability to be responsive to the community.

Within the pool of applicants, housing board member Bob Helmus said there are at least two or three who could aptly fill Tolen’s shoes.

“There were some pretty good resumes,” Helmus said.

Vickery has not been told if he is among the finalists to be interviewed for the post.

Tolen, who has been housing director for five years after a three-year stint as housing project manager, plans to pursue a career in computer consulting.

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