‘Standards are high’ as Vail Town Council re-launches town manager search | VailDaily.com

‘Standards are high’ as Vail Town Council re-launches town manager search

VAIL — It's time to start over in searching for the next Vail town manager.

After a lengthy executive session Tuesday, and the withdrawal of one of the final two candidates, council members have decided to again open the search for the successor to former manager Stan Zemler, who had held the job for more than 13 years and attended his last council meeting April 4.

The council will again use Strategic Government Resources, based in Keller, Texas, to recruit new candidates, although a release from the town stated that previous candidates may be considered.

'Find a better fit'

Vail Town Council member Dick Cleveland noted that losing one of the final two candidates was part of a trend that developed early, as several candidates withdrew their names from consideration for the job.

With one candidate left, "we were concerned that maybe we needed to keep looking and maybe find a better fit," Cleveland said.

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Council member Jenn Bruno said the initial search brought some "very good" candidates to the town. But, she added, "it's more important to find the right candidate with the right amount of experience to manage and lead our town."

Looking forward

The manager's job in Vail really is the leader. Bruno noted that the Vail Town Council really has direct hiring and firing authority over three people: the town manager, town attorney and town judge. That leaves the manager as the boss of every town department.

With the search reopened, Bruno said she believes the council can be "more targeted" in what kinds of candidates it's looking for.

Given Zemler's long tenure and popularity, it's easy to assume that the council would clone the former manager, if possible.

That's not really the case, council member Greg Moffet said.

"We may need someone with a different toolbox moving forward," Moffet said. "In my view, we're at a different place as a town than when we hired (Zemler)."

Cleveland agreed.

"After 13 years, it's time to look to the future," he said.

Cleveland and Moffet were on the town council that hired Zemler in 2003. Ludwig Kurz was the mayor at the time.

Zemler wasn't the first choice back then, and Kurz has said that he and Rod Slifer, who was on the council at the time, lobbied hard to hire him.

Cleveland said at the time, the town was looking to take a more customer-friendly stance, and Zemler, who was leading the Boulder Chamber of Commerce at the time, was a good fit for that vision.

Looking forward, Cleveland said this council hopes to find someone with great people skills, but also someone who's open to change as it comes.

Bravo, McKenny

While the search continues, Bruno said the council is fortunate to have Town Clerk Patty McKenny as its interim manager. McKenny served a similar interim role when she was Avon Town Clerk.

"She's one of the most experienced and trusted municipal leaders in the state," Bruno said. "That gives us the ability and time to make the right decision."

Bruno added that she's confident the town will find the right person for the job.

"It's an incredible job opportunity for the right person," Bruno said. "Our standards are high for a reason."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

Want the job?

• You’ll need a college degree in public administration, business administration or a related field.

• You’ll serve at the pleasure of the Vail Town Council.

• You’ll manage all town departments, including police, fire and transportation.

• The job comes with the use of a house and a car.

• Former Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler’s last annual salary was $197,486.

To learn more about the job, go to the town of Vail’s website.

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