Vail finds new town manager in Telluride municipal manager Greg Clifton | VailDaily.com

Vail finds new town manager in Telluride municipal manager Greg Clifton

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VAIL — It took longer than expected, but the Vail Town Council has found a new top administrator for the town.

The council Tuesday announced that Greg Clifton, currently the municipal administrator in Telluride, has accepted the job. According to a news release from the town, Clifton will start transitioning into his new job on Sept. 1 and will start in a full-time capacity with Vail on Sept. 25.

Clifton has worked most of this professional life on the Western Slope, as the town attorney for Montrose and then as the municipal manager at nearby Ridgway. He has been Telluride's top administrator since 2010.

Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said Clifton seems to have the right attitude for the job.

"He brings with him a calm demeanor (and willingness) to listen and gathering all the facts. … Many great community leaders have that," Chapin said.

As part of the search, the town put together a citizen committee to interview candidates for the job.

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Committee member Ludwig Kurz, a former town mayor, praised the council's decision to hire Clifton.

The council reopened the search earlier this year after one of the previous two finalists for the job withdrew his application. Kurz said the second search produced six good candidates and that Clifton was "one that stood out right at the top."

"He was in a major ski resort for a long time," Kurz said. "He intrinsically understands what we're up against in terms of running a community that's also attached to a major ski resort."

Understanding mountain life

Longtime Vail resident Meg Hanlon also was on the search committee. She said Clifton brings a number of skills to the job that will be important for the town's top administrator.

"He understands mountain resort town life and values," Hanlon said. "I'm particularly pleased that he has experience with multi-party government agreements."

Hanlon said those multi-government agreements are increasing in Eagle County. Those agreements often deal with transit and housing.

Hanlon added that thanks to long experience in Colorado, Clifton is already aware of how state and local budgeting work and the legal peculiarities unique to Colorado.

"Every state is different," Hanlon said.

Clifton is Vail's seventh town manager in the 51 years since the town was incorporated. He'll succeed Stan Zemler, whose 13-year tenure was the longest of any of those administrators. Zemler's last Vail Town Council meeting was in late April.

While he's spent a number of years in Telluride, Vail's municipal operation is a good deal larger than that at his current job, with a much larger budget and town staff.

In a statement in the announcement, Clifton said he's eager to start work in Vail.

"It is with great honor and a lot of excitement that I look forward to the move to Vail and serving the community there," he said.

Vail Mayor Dave Chapin is also excited to have Clifton coming to town.

Busy tenure in Telluride

In the statement, there's a long list of Clifton's accomplishments in Telluride, including helping to create a regional transportation authority, helping to create a parking fund, working on an intergovernmental agreement to fund a highway roundabout and leading a number of environmental sustainability initiatives.

In a telephone conversation, Chapin stressed that work in sustainability.

"That's very important," Chapin said. "He's been shown to be a leader in sustainability," adding that Telluride's environmental efforts often lead the resort industry.

Besides Clifton's professional accomplishments, Chapin said it's also important to have someone with long experience in Colorado — and on the Western Slope — come into the job.

"There are a lot of unique issues in the state, in so many areas," Chapin said. "To have that understanding over the course of as many years as Greg has is very important. … With the way the state's growing, this is not the time for a learning curve."

Hanlon agreed, and said she believes Clifton will be able to dive right into work at Vail.

"I think he's very prepared to start this job," she said.

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

From the resume

Here’s a look at Greg Clifton’s professional experience:

• 2010-2017: Municipal manager, town of Telluride.

• 2001-2010: Municipal manager, town of Ridgway.

• 1994-2003: Municipal attorney, city of Montrose.

• Education: Clifton has a graduate degree from the University of Colorado, a law degree from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University.