Short-term Englewood city manager hire falls through

Council will consider other options to replace Eric Keck

Posted 10/29/18

One week after the Englewood City Council chose a temporary replacement for the city manager position, the council announced negotiations with the candidate failed, but the city did not shed light on …

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Short-term Englewood city manager hire falls through

Council will consider other options to replace Eric Keck

Posted

One week after the Englewood City Council chose a temporary replacement for the city manager position, the council announced negotiations with the candidate failed, but the city did not shed light on why.

Mayor Linda Olson said at the council's special meeting Oct. 22 that talks to hire Virginia Egger, former manager of the Town of Avon in western Colorado, fell through.

“We will be moving on to other options within an open public meeting at our next (meeting), probably Nov. 5,” Olson said.

The city manager is Englewood's top non-elected administrative official, who implements policy decisions made by the council.

When asked what sank the negotiations, the city did not say.

“This is a personnel matter, and we hope and expect that everyone can respect the private contract-negotiation process,” said Benny Stiemsma, city spokesman.

When asked what other options the city is considering, he said the city would be able to answer after the Nov. 5 council meeting, when the council will discuss next steps.

Egger did not return a phone call seeking comment about what stopped her potential hiring. The council had unanimously voted to select Egger for the position at the Oct. 15 council meeting.

Former City Manager Eric Keck announced his exit at the Sept. 4 city council meeting amid what he called a divisive few months for Englewood. He stepped down Oct. 5.

Keck, who served as manager for four years, decided to leave to take a private-sector job in another state. “Council dysfunction” was a small part of his decision, he said, but his resignation was influenced by his family and the opportunity to make an impact on many people in the new position.

The council began the process in early September to hire an interim city manager — one step in the process to finding a full replacement, which is expected to take roughly six months. Initially, there were four applicants for the interim position, and two withdrew, according to Stephanie Carlile, city clerk. Egger was chosen over Wesley LaVanchy, former manager of the Town of Firestone in northern Colorado.

A news release by Avon in June said Egger's notable accomplishments included her “role to facilitate the construction of the joint public safety facility and the Centura Health medical building, as well as the acquisition of the new Town Hall building.”

That release also referenced the Avon Town Council's unanimous move in May to fire her, the Vail Daily reported in June.

Some Avon councilmembers expressed frustration in 2016 over Egger's management regarding a festival in the town, leading two to vote for a motion to terminate her, the newspaper reported. The motion to terminate her in May was made “without cause,” and councilmembers don't have a legal obligation to explain why they let her go, the paper reported.

But Egger had impressed Englewood's council across the board, councilmembers expressed at their Oct. 15 meetings. Councilmember Othoniel Sierra praised her interview answers as thorough, and Councilmember Dave Cuesta called her a “Day One candidate” who could hit the ground running.

Egger would have arrived at a time when city staff members and city residents perceive division on the council, an observation councilmembers noted at the Oct. 9 meeting to interview candidates. Political division in the city as a whole displayed itself during the months leading up to the Sept. 18 election that attempted to recall Councilmember Laurett Barrentine from office. The contest narrowly decided she would keep her seat — by 48 votes, or 3 percentage points, according to official results Sept. 27.

The city also is functioning with no permanent assistant city manager, after Mark Woulf left at the end of June. Keck appointed Dorothy Hargrove, the director of parks, recreation and library, as interim assistant city manager. Hargrove is standing in as the acting interim city manager until the city makes a hire, according to the city's website.

The city's directors — in charge of branches like finance and utilities, for example — are among those who could temporarily step in as city manager if the council prefers it.

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