From My Window… Commissioners face tough task picking new administrator

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
The Rio Blanco County commissioners are currently mulling over and have interviewed three candidates for county administrator to succeed Kimberly Bullen, who resigned in April.
The acclimation time will be short for the person who is charged with quickly learning all he/she needs to know about the personnel, the projects, the budgets and the rules, regulations, laws and goals that determine how to run a county in Colorado. Honestly, none of the three candidates named last week has the on-the-job training to be county administrator. But, yes, it can be learned — with an enormous learning curve.
I can’t imagine wanting to jump into a job that controls so many square miles, so many personnel, so many projects, so many rules (county, state and federal), so many regulations (county, state and federal) such a diversity of residents as well as a multi-multi-million-dollar budget without any kind of experience. But that decision isn’t up to me. It is up to the individuals seeking the position and the commissioners who are going to do the hiring.
In a Page One news story, this week’s Herald Times takes a preliminary look at how satisfied Rio Blanco County residents are with how the county is run overall. From the information in today’s paper, I would give the county probably an overall B or B-minus grade. The county is doing quite well regarding the residents’ satisfaction as a whole, but there are obviously a number of folks who are not satisfied.
Next week, the Herald Times will divulge some of the more in-depth, more to-the-point results of the survey, and the county doesn’t always fare nearly as well with a closer look.
There are, frankly, some areas in need of attention by the new administrator and the commissioners. Some areas, according to the survey, come fairly close to failing in how the public sees them and views their work.
Rio Blanco has to come into the 21st century some time in the near future and get away from the “we’ve never done it that way before; why start now?” attitude that runs rampant through this county’s government.
There are people who hurt the county. These aren’t bad people. They are people who have been in positions too long and don’t want to change with the times. There are people performing tasks that they are not trained to do with up-to-date technology. And there are people who just don’t know how to work within a group of people with the best interests of the residents of this county in mind.
And there are people who hire others because they know those people will perform what they are told to perform, further exacerbating the issue of the blind leading the blind, and imaginative innovations are crushed.
As I wrote when Bullen resigned her position and pointed out much of what I have already said, the three county commissioners may have the toughest job of all.
They will need to have the wisdom of Solomon.
They will have to hire a county administrator who can do the job in the first place, and they have to allow that person to follow their education and instinct, allowing the person they hire the time to do what it is they do best — and demonstrate the reason they were hired.
The commissioners have to back that person and hope they picked the best person available to lead them into the future.
Are any of the three finalists the right person to move Rio Blanco County into the future? Only time will tell.
But this journalist, I am sure, is joined by a vast majority of county residents in hoping that the right person is hired and in wishing whoever is chosen the very best of luck and perseverance in your upcoming job.
Rio Blanco County residents are not stupid. They are pretty well informed and, it seems, they are not indecisive at the polls. They know what they like and they know what they don’t like, and they don’t appear afraid of showing it.
The ball is in the commissioners’ court, and we must all hope and pray they dig deep and look out for the long-term best interests of Rio Blanco County.