During a city council meeting on Aug. 20, City Manager Ron LeBlanc announced his retirement after almost 12 years of service.
Although his announcement took City Council by surprise, we recognize that change is healthy and represents new and dynamic opportunities.
We thank Ron for his service to Durango and celebrate the many contributions of his tenure. Recent accomplishments include the opening of Lake Nighthorse; construction of the Santa Rita Water Reclamation Facility; airport improvements; expansion of the ADU program; expansion of the Animas River Trail and recognition of Durango as an environmentally friendly city with both a LEED city certification and a Solsmart Gold designation.
Under our city’s home rule form of governance, it is City Council’s job to choose a new city manager, and we will begin the process immediately.
Selecting just the right city manager will be one of the most important decisions we will ever make as a council, as it will impact not only to what extent and in what manner our city goals are fulfilled, but also the quality of day-to-day life for Durango residents for many years to come.
The importance of this position can hardly be overstated.
The city manager is Durango’s chief administrative officer. He or she appoints, with the approval of City Council, all heads of city departments, offices and agencies, as well as directing and supervising them.
The city manager reports directly to City Council and is responsible for implementing the council’s goals, policies, procedures and practices. He or she attends City Council meetings and participates in discussions (but may not vote).
There are many well-outlined processes and procedures for efficient recruitment and selection of a new manager, and we will rely heavily on these guidelines.
One of our first tasks will be to develop a profile of our ideal candidate that will include qualities, characteristics, experience, skill sets and areas of expertise that would add great value to our community.
These might include good financial stewardship, for instance, and vision to see beyond the challenges facing Durango today to the empowering possibilities of the future.
They might include experience protecting the environment and building a sustainable community, as well as a collaborative leadership style and a commitment to preserve our community’s unique character.
Our recruitment strategy may involve an executive search firm and City Council will likely interview multiple qualified candidates before making a final selection. Throughout the process of selecting a new city manager, council will continue to implement new city council goals.
We will also continue to work diligently in establishing new and more effective city staff evaluation systems, in order to ensure that the visions of City Council and staff are closely aligned, that our expectations are clear and concise and that a framework for maximum accountability is firmly in place.
Progress we’ve already made in these areas will be extremely helpful as we develop a working relationship with our new city manager.
My term as mayor is shaping up to be even busier than I had anticipated!
These are exciting times. Council is committed to supporting our new city manager in his or her leadership role and encouraging a professional environment in which our city staff will thrive.
Community feedback as we begin this process is welcomed, as always, and I will do my best to keep the community informed as we make progress.
We are eager to move forward toward an ever better Durango!
Melissa Youssef is mayor of Durango, a position rotating among members of City Council. Reach her at Melissa.Youssef@DurangoGov.org.