Mayor to present two finalists

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By David Giuliani

Mayor Tony Marquez said there is a “remote possibility” that the City Council may choose a new city manager at its meeting this week.

But he said he wants the city’s recruitment firm, Mercer Group, to spend some time on background checks of the five finalists for the position. He said he learned from his experience last year when a search committee came up with a finalist who was later discovered to have a problem with his resume.

The five candidates visited Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago and were interviewed by a three-member search committee. Marquez said he doesn’t know which candidates are the committee’s finalists.

The candidates are Kelvin Knauf, former assistant city manager of Baytown, Texas; John Sutherland, former Tucumcari city manager; Robert Jasper, a former administrator of Grand Junction, Colo.-based Mesa County, Colo.; Timothy Dodge, current Santa Rosa city manager; and Dan Dible, former city manager in Las Vegas and Hobbs.                                                        

Marquez said he plans to interview the committee’s favorites and then present his two top candidates to the City Council, giving its members the opportunity to interview the two either in open or closed session.

Last week, a 3-2 City Council majority appointed  Ken Garcia to serve as interim city manager. He will be working as a consultant.

Late last month, Garcia was hired as a consultant to manage the utilities department. Robert Tafoya, who retired from the city of Las Vegas, was hired at the same time as a water engineer specialist.

Marquez said he would consider keeping Garcia in some capacity after a new city manager comes on board. He said he is “extremely impressed” with both Garcia and Tafoya.

He said both have provided him information that should have been available before.

The mayor said he knew Garcia from high school in 1984 but hadn’t seen him since. He said he was acquainted with Tafoya because of his previous work for the city.

“Over the next few weeks, we will move rapidly to address water issues,” the mayor said. “We are no longer going to play the waiting game or the blaming game. It’s time to start taking action and implementing solutions soon for the critical water situation.”

Utilities Director George Du Four was placed on administrative leave last month and was later fired by the council.