The process to identify and put in place a new Buena Vista (BV) Town Administrator is well underway, with the hope that a new town administrator will be in place before the end of August. As reported by the eight-member search committee during Tuesday evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, the committee came forward with their leading finalist, a Nebraska applicant named Lisa Parnell-Rowe.
Based on a motion by Devin Rowe, approved unanimously, the trustees agreed to the committee’s recommendation to have her attend the July 26 trustee meeting. The public is invited to that “meet and greet” at the Buena Vista Community Center at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 26.
“This is not a hiring, it’s a meeting,” stressed Phillip Puckett, who has just stepped down from the position and has served on the search committee for a replacement for the role he has held for the past five years. “We got ten completed applications and by reviewing their experience and qualifications, we whittled it down to the top two applicants in late June – early July.”
He reminded the Trustees that they had agreed to form this committee to do the background work, before giving it back to the public and trustees to assess. While there were two, clear finalists, one of them took another job during the review process.
“We had a second round of interviews with our finalist,” said Mayor Libby Fay. “I particularly got into her motivation to come here, and the committee’s sense that she is the right one was unanimous across the committee.” She added that if she is selected for the role, Parnell-Rowe has told them that she intends to live here: she has a home in Divide, (she spent time as a city planner for Woodland Park) and rents in Nebraska where she is currently.
Fay pointed out that Parnell-Rowe has been a town clerk and an administrator, and has done quality assurance work and development. “She has a masters in public administration and a specialization in Urban Planning and Community Development …she’s personable, poised, positive … she thinks on her feet. She’s used to working in municipal governance in Nebraska.”
Puckett stressed that Parnell-Rowe would be invited to meet the trustees and public as a finalist, not as someone who already had the job. Then the board could go into an executive session to discuss it.
“A community like ours needs funding and development experience and community engagement which she has,” said Fay. “Phillip had been on the board before becoming town administrator, so there is a lot of built-in knowledge. We asked her in her second interview, would she be open to mentoring for coaching from senior staff and she said she would be.”
Trustee Cindie Swisher expressed disappointment “that I’m only given one to choose from — there is real choosing – this is a position appointed by the board, there are six board members, and we had one [board member] on the committee.” When Fay pointed out that she was on the committee too, Swisher said “Well you don’t vote unless it’s a tie. I don’t mean to be difficult.”
“It is awkward, but other people we don’t want to waste their time or ours if they are not good choices,” said Trustee Sue Cobb, who served on the search committee. “There was one candidate, who dropped out just before his second interview … we can go back out if we need to. We want this to be the right decision.”
Town Attorney Jeff Parker pointed out that trustees should be aware that “typically for a high-level position contract you include a payout if you let them go for anything other than misconduct. They are generally moving their families.” The group eventually came to an agreement to move forward on the Candidate Meet and Greet and agreed that the hiring process has to keep moving. One pointed out that “taking too long does damage to an organization.”
More information about the search process and about candidate Lisa Parnell-Rowe is available on page 101-103 of the Tuesday, July 12 Board of trustee packet.