Aspen’s electeds consider city manager candidates privately |

Aspen’s electeds consider city manager candidates privately

While Aspen City Council met in executive session for several hours Friday and Tuesday to discuss the three finalists for the city manager position, the decision on whom to hire will be done in public.

When that happens is not known. An employment contract must be offered and then negotiated with the chosen candidate before it will appear on a council agenda.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Council interviewed the finalists — Katie Lewis, Robb Etnyre and Sara Ott — in private Friday.

Council met in executive session for four hours Tuesday night to discuss the merits of each candidate, as well as the public feedback it received since last week.

City Attorney Jim True said council cannot make decisions in executive session, but can give direction to staff.

He declined to comment if direction was given to negotiate with a specific candidate.

True did confirm that if council cannot come to a consensus, a candidate will be chosen by majority vote.

Aspen resident Peter Fornell objected to council going into executive session Tuesday evening. He told Mayor Torre that the deliberation should be in public, so the community knows what the thought process is of the elected officials.

The city holds the position that it is a personnel matter, and negotiations can and should be done in private.

There were fewer than a dozen people who made official comments to council via comment cards in City Hall, or by email.

The city this week denied The Aspen Times’ request under the Colorado Open Records Act to make those comments public.

“We solicited these as confidential statements and we will honor that confidentiality,” True said.

The person chosen for the job will be replacing Steve Barwick, who after 19 years as city manager was asked to resign in January after a series of missteps between the municipal government and the public.

Council also discussed in executive session Tuesday the sale of Barwick’s house back to the city.

Barwick bought the house from the city for $210,500. He will receive that back when he sells, along with over 20 years’ worth of equity.

The Cemetery Lane house is one of dozens of properties the city owns that are made available for employees.

The finalists for Barwick’s old job made public presentations last week in front of council and participated in meet-and-greets with community members and city staff.

Ott is the only internal candidate and is currently the interim city manager.

Etnyre is the general manager and CEO of Tahoe Donner in Truckee, California, and Lewis is the senior city attorney for Salt Lake City Corp.

The city hired the head hunting firm Peckham & McKenney in April for $25,000 to help it find the right candidate for the job.