Town manager search down to 3 candidates
VAIL — Mayor Dave Chapin Wednesday announced the search for a new Vail town manager has been narrowed to three finalists.
The candidates will travel to Vail for a series of interviews which are taking place Tuesday and Wednesday. The itinerary will include a community meet-and-greet reception with the candidates, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Donovan Pavilion: 1600 S. Frontage Road West. Members of the public are encouraged to stop by to learn more about the three contenders:
David Buckingham has worked as the City Manager of Morro Bay, a destination and resort community on the Central Coast of California, for almost three years. He previously served in the U.S. Army for 27 years in a wide variety of leadership and management positions, completing his service in five senior executive positions. His final assignments included service as the City Manager of the army’s 17,500-person base in the foothills of the Italian Alps, and as the Director of Army Environmental Programs, overseeing stewardship, compliance and cleanup at 152 bases worldwide. Buckingham holds a master’s in international relations from Cambridge University, England, a master’s in strategic studies from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island and a bachelor’s in industrial engineering from Penn State. Buckingham, his wife Kendra, and their five children have skied, hiked, biked and camped across the American west and around the world.
Jay Harrington, currently the Town Manager of Carbondale, previously held the position of City Manager for Cortez, and has 23 years of city and town management experience. Additionally, he has a number of years of town management experience in mountain communities, having served as the town manager for both Telluride and Pagosa Springs. He has planning experience and training as well, having served as a senior planner for La Plata County in Durango. Harrington earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from St. Lawrence University and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Michael Kovacs has served as City Manager of Fate, Texas, for nearly three years, and has more than 19 years of experience in city management. He has directly supervised departments responsible for public works, police, fire, EMS, parks and recreation, finance, building, planning, engineering and public information. Kovacs describes his management style as being a servant leader who is personally invested in the mission of the city, knowing and helping the staff and focusing on the needs of the community and its elected officials.
Kovacs was previously city manager in Galveston, Texas, where he worked to further the city’s recovery from Hurricane Ike. Prior to Galveston, Kovacs was assistant city manager in Park City, Utah, the city manager for Port Aransas, Texas, the town administrator in Surfside Beach, South Carolina and the city administrator for Presidio, Texas. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Michael and his wife, Fonya, have been married for 21 years. They have one son attending the University of Texas at Dallas and two sons in public school.
The finalists were selected by the Vail Town Council following an initial screening of 61 applications by the executive search firm Strategic Government Resources based in Keller, Texas. The company has been hired to help facilitate the selection process.
During their stay, the candidate finalists will undergo a series of interviews by the council, plus representatives from the community and town staff. Following the interviews and after discussions with community representatives and staff, the council will convene in executive session to determine next steps.
The search process was initiated earlier this year after Stan Zemler announced he would be leaving as Vail’s town manager. Zemler attended his final Vail Town Council meeting April 4. Town Clerk Patty McKenny is serving as acting town manager during the interim.
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