City manager finalists meet the public on eve of important interviews | SteamboatToday.com

City manager finalists meet the public on eve of important interviews

Residents invited to sit in on candidate interviews

Steamboat Springs city manager finalists answer questions from an audience Thursday at the Community Center.

— Steamboat Springs’ next city manager may not be the best downhill skier in town.

But after meeting the candidates in person for the first time, City Council members are optimistic one of the four men vying for the job will bring stability to a government position that has seen both turmoil and turnover in recent years.

The city manager finalists met with residents Thursday during a forum at the Steamboat Springs Community Center and discussed their management styles, their skiing abilities (or lack thereof) and why they want to drop everything and move to the Yampa Valley.

The forum gave residents their first opportunity to meet the finalists and get a sense for how they might fit in here.

After all of the finalists had spoken, City Council President Walter Magill said he and his fellow council members will have an interesting choice to make after the candidates go through an extensive round of interviews Friday.

"This is a good group of candidates with diverse backgrounds," Magill said.

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The finalists will be in Centennial Hall from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday for interviews with the council, city staff and a community panel.

All of the interview sessions are open to the public.

The finalists for the job include Gary Suiter, George Korthauer, Michael Lamar and Steven Norwood.

Lamar, the county manager of Morgan County, Georgia, told the audience he would lead an open, interactive and transparent government here, as he does in his home state.

He noted he previously worked as a manager in Trenton, Florida, where the state’s open meetings laws, in some areas, went a step beyond Colorado’s laws to promote more government transparency.

Lamar said at his current job in Georgia, he also holds "manager hours" for four hours every other Monday, during which time residents can come into his office without an appointment and share a concern or an idea.

"What’s happened is, it’s gone from bringing me issues to bringing me ideas," Lamar said. "We certainly don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. You get good ideas from people in the community."

Lamar has visited Steamboat before and has already experienced mountain biking on Mount Werner.

Korthauer, who enjoyed a 25-year career as a city manager in Petoskey, Michigan, attributes his long tenure to his experience in communities that have long had a council/manager form of government.

He began his career as an assistant village manager in Glencoe, Illinois, which, in 1914, became the first municipality in the state to adopt the council manager system, a full six decades before Steamboat.

Korthauer also has experience working with several different council members.

"I probably worked with 30 or more council members in Petoskey," Korthauer said.

He wants to move to Steamboat to be closer to his daughter, who lives in Denver.

Norwood, who served as city manager of Round Rock, Texas, as well as other cities in the Lone Star State, touted his experience managing cities with populations ranging from 8,000 to 110,000 people.

"But I’ve always enjoyed the smaller, self-contained cities the most," Norwood said.

Norwood said he’s started doing research in this community and has talked to about 50 residents so far to get a better understanding of Steamboat.

He promised he could survive the abundant snow Steamboat’s winters bring.

And Suiter, an experienced city manager in Colorado who has been leading Steamboat’s city government on an interim basis since October, said he was ready to commit to one job and one community.

He praised this city’s authenticity and said he would not be applying for the job if he didn’t think it had a great city staff and a committed city council.

"I am a results-oriented manager, so I’m very selective about the positions to which I apply," Suiter said.

As interim city manager, Suiter has already made an impact on the city by performing such tasks as hiring a new chief of police.

The council could, as soon as Tuesday, choose who they want to hire for the job.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10