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Search narrowed to five candidates

Allyn Harvey

The search for a county manager is down to five candidates.

One hails from as far away as New York, one works just across the hall from the now-vacant county manager’s office, two are senior managers who work in midvalley government agencies, and one is from Granby, the bedroom community to Winter Park.

The five finalists, selected from 16 applicants, survived the first round of review that included scrutiny of their resums and phone interviews. Whoever is selected will fill the position vacated by Suzanne Konchan.

“I’ll be looking for someone whose ethics and beliefs fit in with Aspen – that smaller houses might be better, that less development might be better, that recycling might be the right thing to do even if it costs more than it saves,” said County Commissioner Dorothea Farris.

Three of the five finalists are a known quantity.

Hilary Fletcher Smith has spent the last few years working under Konchan as assistant county manager. Smith, of Carbondale, recently earned a master’s degree in public administration.

George Roussos has been a familiar face at most of the government meetings in the Roaring Fork Valley that involve Eagle County. He is Eagle County’s assistant administrator, which is a different name for the same job Smith holds.

Tom Newland held Smith’s current job until the end of 1998, when he took the lead position at the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority. As director at the holding authority, Newland has overseen the development of the trails plan and the nearly completed corridor investment study, an analysis of the valley’s transportation needs and potential solutions involving the railroad right of way between Glenwood and Aspen. He lives in Basalt.

The other two aren’t so well known, at least locally.

Tom Hale, according to county personnel director Amy Barwick, is currently living in Granby, where he is the town manager. He also has experience in county management in San Miguel County and Chaffee County.

John Hartzell is the only out-of-state resident to make the final cut. His current job is county attorney for Jefferson County, New York. Barwick said that experience, combined with a previous stint as that county’s assistant administrator, helped him overcome the disadvantage of distance.

Farris said she’s penned about a dozen questions, though she’s not sure which ones she’s going to ask. Both she and Commissioner Mick Ireland say knowledge of local issues and the ability to manage a large organization and the vocal and often well-organized public are necessary for the next county manager.

“I’m looking for a cross between Suzanne Konchan and Reid Haughey and all of their best qualities, but none of their very few faults,” said Ireland, the only commissioner who was involved with the decision to hire Konchan.

All five candidates will be interviewed twice, once by a group of county staffers and once by a panel that includes the county commissioners and five or six citizens.

The interviews are scheduled for Jan. 11 and Jan. 12.


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