Vail manager search down to two hopefuls |

Vail manager search down to two hopefuls

Daily staff report

VAIL — On Thursday, Mayor Dave Chapin announced the search for a new Vail town manager has been narrowed to two candidates following interviews this week with three finalists. The top two candidates selected unanimously by the town council are David Buckingham, city manager of Morrow Bay, California, and Jay Harrington, town manager of Carbondale. A third candidate, Michael Kovacs, city manager of Fate, Texas, is no longer in the running.

Representatives from the council will be conducting site visits and additional due diligence before convening in executive session at 4 p.m. on Wednesday to continue the selection process. Thursday’s announcement follows a series of candidate interviews this week involving the town council, staff, a citizen panel and the community at-large in which the top two contenders were identified.

David Buckingham

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 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

Harrington 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 of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from St. Lawrence University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Colorado at Denver.

The finalists were selected by the 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. The search was initiated earlier this year after Stan Zemler announced he would be leaving as Vail’s town manager. Town clerk Patty McKenny is serving as acting town manager during the interim.

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