PAGE — The city of Page has established a Final Four of candidates for city manager.
The candidates — from Show Low, Basalt, Colo., Riverton, Utah, and St. George, Utah — are expected to arrive in Page Dec. 20 and 21 for face-to-face interviews and public meet-and-greets. The finalists were interviewed by telephone during a special Page City Council meeting Monday night in executive session.
“I was pleasantly surprised at all four candidates,” Mayor Bill Diak said Tuesday. “All did extremely well in the interview process.”
Gary Scaramazzo, the longest-serving mayor in Page history, was not among the group but did crack the final 16, Diak said. Scaramazzo, who now lives in the Valley, withdrew from consideration before the list was narrowed to five, Diak said.
Also withdrawing was Aaron Reeves, city administrator for Cannon Falls, Minn. Reeves made the final five but opted out Monday morning. Reeves, who bowed out of consideration last Dec. 7 for a job as city administrator of nearby Faribault, Minn., told Page officials he had accepted a job elsewhere.
That narrowed the field to Show Low attorney Kane Graves, Riverton economic director Donald Adams, Basalt public works director Bentley Henderson and retired former city manager William Way, now living in St. George.
Page is seeking to replace Rick Olson, whose 11-year tenure with the city of Page is set to be at least interrupted at the end of January. Olson joined Page as city attorney in 2002 and became co-acting city manager last year with Bo Thomas’ resignation. He was named city manager in March 2012.
Olson, who became eligible for state retirement last month, is reportedly interested in the vacant position of city magistrate.
Olson is now working as interim city manager until a successor is found. Councilmembers also have identified five finalists for the position of city attorney, vacated by Robert Wingo this week. Wingo has taken a job in the Valley.
Graves also is applying for city attorney, Diak said. Graves is the only finalist with experience in Arizona. Graves was a deputy county attorney for the Pima County Attorney’s Office before joining the City of Prescott as city prosecutor in 1983. He became city attorney the following year, resigning in 1990.
Graves was city attorney for Show Low from 2003 to 2008 and then city manager/attorney for Globe from 2008 to June 2012. The Arizona Silver Belt newspaper of Globe reported that Graves was pressured to resign by mayor-elect Terry Wheeler, then a councilmember. The city council unanimously accepted Graves’ resignation in spite of charges of bullying and abuse of power by Wheeler against Graves.
“I can’t express enough what you’ve meant to this city,” Baker said to Graves during the April 9, 2012, council meeting, according to the Silver Belt. “You’ve saved us time and money again and again.”
The entire council, minus Wheeler, gave Graves a standing ovation, and Graves responded, “Au contraire. It has been my pleasure.”
Graves subsequently was town manager/attorney for Superior, in Pinal County, from January to August of this year, according to Superior council meeting minutes. He is currently self-employed as an attorney in Show Low, Diak said.
Diak said Adams is Riverton’s economic development director with prior experience as an aide to the mayor and grants manager for the community of 38,753 in Salt Lake County. Riverton is one of the fastest-growing cities in Utah.
Henderson has worked in Basalt since 2008, having served previously as assistant city manager in Aspen, Colo. The Aspen Times newspaper reported that Henderson also had headed Aspen’s asset management department from 2006 to 2008. Much of his work in Aspen had focused on the resort city’s affordable housing program. He helped negotiate $31 million in land acquisitions in 2007.
Way had been city manager of Needles, Calif., for two years, and was city manager of California City, in Kern County, Calif., for four years. He left California to become a facilities manager for the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, then took early retirement to care for an elderly parent in St. George, Diak said.