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There are again five finalists for the position of Archuleta County administrator, despite another candidate dropping out of the running.
On Dec. 19, five finalists were announced for the position, but on Dec. 26, finalist Todd Starr withdrew his name from the running.
Starr, the current county attorney and interim county administrator for Archuleta County, was the only local finalist.
On Dec. 27, the Board of County Commissioners met to discuss adding another finalist to the mix.
During the work session, the board, armed with the knowledge of Starr’s withdrawal and the potential withdrawal of another finalist, Edward Gil de Rubio, discussed several options concerning the hiring of a new administrator.
One topic at the meeting was Gil de Rubio’s possible withdrawal and the option of fronting him sufficient money to make the trip to Pagosa Springs for an interview — an idea that was dismissed out of fairness to the other candidates, and with commissioners Steve Wadley and Michael Whiting noting that the issue may indicate the candidate was not right for the job.
Also at the meeting, commissioner Clifford Lucero brought up the idea of actively seeking out and asking specific people to apply, with others in attendance stating that the job was open to applicants for a month, with anyone able to apply if they wanted the job.
Other comments included the suggestion of moving forward to the interview stage with only the remaining finalists, and recruiting further only if no suitable hire was found.
The path chosen by consensus at the meeting, however, meant adding two additional candidates to the mix who had previously been declared backup finalists, meaning that, likely, either five or six individuals would be interviewed.
Gil de Rubio later withdrew from the running due to financial issues associated with the January interviews.
Those two candidates added to the mix are Todd Crossett of Polson, Mont., and Alan Grindstaff of Crowley, Texas.
Crossett holds a B.A. in English pre-law from the Washington State University and a Master’s of International Management and Development from Whitworth University. He has completed intensive Russian language studies from the University of Washington.
Crossett currently serves as city manager in Polson, Mont., beginning in that role in 2009. Prior to that, Crosset served as a county commissioner in Bonner County, Idaho, from 2007-2009.
Grindstaff holds a B.S. from the University of Utah and a Master’s of Public Administration from Brigham Young University.
Grindstaff serves as city manager for Crowley City, Texas, with prior jobs as city manager, most recently in Jasper City, Texas.
Crossett and Grindstaff join Brenton Lewis of Holdrege, Neb., Peter Kampfer of Raton, N.M., and Jesse Smith of Montrose, Colo., as finalists.
A total of 35 applications were received for the position, said Mitzi Bowman, human resources administrator.
To narrow down the initial applicants, Lucero explained that the county formed a committee consisting of representatives of outside agencies — Joanne Spina (City of Durango), Brad Cochennet (Pagosa Springs Medical Center), Ken Charles (Department of Local Affairs), John Ranson (former commissioner) and J.R. Ford (business owner).
That committee, Lucero said, narrowed the applicants to eight, forwarding the applications to the commissioners.
With those eight in mind, each commissioner independently ranked their top five, giving those results to Bowman to tabulate, Lucero explained.
Lucero said the plan is to interview the candidates on Jan. 11, with a decision made and an offer extended that week.
The interview process, Lucero said, will be threefold — one with the outside committee used to narrow applications, one with the Board of County Commissioners, and one with an internal committee comprising chosen county officials and staff.
Greg Schulte, former county administrator, resigned in November to take the position of assistant county administrator for San Luis Obispo County, in California. That county has 2,400 employees and a yearly budget just short of a half billion dollars.
Following Schulte’s resignation, Starr was appointed to serve as interim county administrator.