Riding into the sunset
Both have done remarkable jobs, each with an easygoing nature touched liberally with a wry sense of humor to go with wisdom and commitment to his community.
These two compatriot souls, known to share a beer or two regularly at some neutral watering hole to commiserate, buoy each other through tougher times and challenge each other to achieve in their friendly rivalry.
One dark evening a few years back, when McLaurin had had it with one silly council request or another, he allowed it might be time to cash it in. Enough was getting to be enough. Efting nodded, no doubt tugged thoughtfully on a beer, and asked to see McLaurin’s wallet – well, actually the family pictures inside. Point taken.
It is a stressful job, one in which the elected bosses are ever changing and, how to put this gently, aren’t always the very best choices a community might make.
Your local smalltown editor inspires plenty of ire – that’s part of his or her job, actually – in the course of sounding off on one topic or the other. But he has no real power, and thank the heavens doesn’t answer to the politicians.
Town managers, as well as other top administrators in government service, walk a tightrope enacting the will of the elected overseers while guiding those above as well as leading their staffs. And, you bet, the politicians require guidance, subtlety of the act carefully calibrated to their level of ego.
The pressure does wear, and this is partly why your typical town manager’s tenure lasts fewer years than the fingers on one hand.
McLaurin thrived for nine years before yielding to his heart’s call home to Jackson Hole, where he still owns a home and has fond memories. Efting served Avon for six years before answering the siren call to warmth, beaches and golf courses awaiting at South Padre Island, Texas.
The valley has lost a couple of wise, savvy and funny leaders, and their communities will miss them deeply, no question. In each town, a lasting legacy of the town managers will be those inferno roundabouts, which whining aside have proved far better for traffic than standard signal lights. McLaurin and Efting guided their towns through big transitions.
Still, a mark of their tenures is the ongoing success of their towns. McLaurin and Efting both built fundamentally strong staffs. Vail and Avon will survive their departures, and are well positioned to thrive.
Avon appears to be in good hands with Larry Brooks, who has served in every corner of town service over the decades.
And Vail is on the cusp of a decision bigger than the rest of its assorted challenges. D.R.
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