Panel grills city manager candidates |

Panel grills city manager candidates

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Beaver Creek Resort Company Executive Director Tony O’Rourke and Moraga, Calif. City Manager Michael Segrest are the finalists in South Lake Tahoe’s search for a new city manager.

A panel of city commission representatives and community members interviewed both men at Lake Tahoe Airport on Monday morning.

The panel is expected to provide input to the city council prior to the selection of a new city manager. Current City Manager David Jinkens is set to retire Aug. 7.

O’Rourke has worked for the Beaver Creek Resort Company for the past 14 years, and has previous experience as a city manager in California, Texas and Florida.

The nonprofit resort company includes a homeowners’ association, a resort association and some municipal services. The resort company’s board of directors operates under a management agreement with Vail Associates, where Vail provides the resort company’s required services, according to the Beaver Creek Resort Company website.

On Monday, O’Rourke said he’d like to be part of a fundamental change in how governments operate.

“I think government in particular right now is in need of new leadership,” O’Rourke said. “Traditional government is broke. There is a necessity for fundamental reorganization and a new business model for how government operates.”

Creating unique brand for South Lake Tahoe and communicating that brand to visitors is critical to the city’s future, O’Rourke said. He said his initial reaction to the city was “mixed.”

Remedying inconsistency in the quality of development at the South Shore is a key to developing a brand, O’Rourke said.

“Every little thing reflects on the integrity of this brand,” O’Rourke said. “It’s important that everyone gets together to protect this brand.”

O’Rourke said he supported re-establishing commercial airline service to Lake Tahoe Airport and said getting work restarted on the bankrupt convention center and condominium project near Stateline is a “significant priority.”

The hiring process for the new South Lake Tahoe police chief should include an interview by a community panel, O’Rourke said

Strategic planning, leadership, commitment to customers, empowering employees and continual improvement are the five components of the executive’s management philosophy, O’Rourke said Monday.

“As long as your focused on common goals, strategic priorities, you’re going to create a community that is better than when you found it,” O’Rourke said.

Segrest previously served as the assistant city manager of Boulder, Colo., town manager of Snowmass Village, Colo. and has been the town manager of Moraga, Calif. for a little more than a year. Segrest said he normally wouldn’t be looking for a new job so soon, but said his wife’s health concerns caused him to look for employment in an area with better air quality.

Segrest said experience dealing with overlapping layers of government in the San Francisco Bay Area is likely to transfer to work in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

He said business and environmental concerns are not mutually exclusive and said he has been successful at bringing people together to solve difficult problems in the past.

“Clearly you have to have a strong economy to have a strong environmental agenda,” Segrest said.

Segrest touted his skills in finance during Monday’s interview and said he believes in holding council members to high ethical standards, including California’s open meeting laws.

He said he has an active management style and will play a large part in the city council’s decision-making discussions.

Segrest said he would have an “open door” policy with staff and won’t shy away from or delay difficult decisions.

Making sure what is eventually built at the site of the stalled convention center and condominium project near Stateline is viable is critical, even if changes to the project cause delays, Segrest said.

Hiring a police chief who is active in the community is key, Segrest said. He said he would receive community input prior to hiring the new police chief, but said he didn’t know how, or if, he would change the current hiring process.

Like O’Rourke, Segrest supported re-establishing commercial airline service to the Lake Tahoe Airport.

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