And then there were four…

Finalists for City Manager shared upbeat visions for Mill Creek

By Dan Aznoff | Apr 05, 2019

The evening had all the trappings of a political campaign with candidates positioning themselves as the best person to assist the City Council direct Mill Creek toward a future of prosperity and stability.

The four finalists for the City Manager position spent two full hours shaking hands with the robust crowd of citizens who took advantage of the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the quartet who survived the series of screenings to take part in an intense weekend of roundtables and interviews with members of the Mill Creek City Council on Friday, March 22.

Each was given the chance to deliver a stump speech to the crowd gathered in the conference room at The Forum in Town Center, followed by two questions from the audience. The formal presentations were followed by casual conversations with residents, councilmembers and city staff.

All four men spoke about their desire to relocate to the Northwest, and specifically Mill Creek, based on the quality of life. But none was more passionate than Michael Ciaravino, who served as both mayor and city manager for the city of Newburgh in New York.

He told the audience that Newburgh had been suffering from a crisis with its water system that had been traced back to waste from a local factory when he began his tenure with the suburb of New York City. Ciaravino said he was able to utilize his skills as a trial lawyer to negotiate more then a simple cash settlement with the alleged offender.

“Coming from New York, its easy for me to say that Mill Creek is a gem,” Ciaravino told the crowd.

All four finalists have advanced degrees. Ciaravino is a lawyer, while the other three have graduate degrees in public administration.

Matt Coppler, who currently serves as the city manager in Lincoln Park, MI said he helped his city recover from a financial crisis similar to the one that faced Mill Creek several years ago. He has spent 27 years in planning, which he said could be useful as Mill Creek explores ways to increase revenues.

 

“It is vital that a city like Mill Creek continue to develop a path based upon its core principals,” said Coppler. He praised Town Center for being the social and economic heart of Mill Creek.

The graduate from Bowling Green University was apparently on the right track, because Interim City Manager Bob Stowe and members of the City Council excused themselves from the festivities to meet across the street for drinks at La Palmera on Main Street.

The evening began with a short presentation from Steve Barwick, who has spent the majority of his career with cities and universities in Colorado. Barwick served as city manager for the resort towns of Aspen. His resume also includes time as a budget analyst for the University of Colorado as well as the Finance and Administrative Services director for the town of Vail.

The foursome was rounded out by the light-hearted Shayne Scott, who has held the post of city manager in Kaysville, Utah since 2016. Scott said Mill Creek has many similarities to the upscale town where he currently works. He believes honest communication between the next city manager with both the staff and city council can help avoid many of the problems that arise in cities the size of Mill Creek.

The city council held an executive session last week, presumably to discuss the finalists, according to a spokesperson for the city. An offer to the candidate selected could be made this month. The exact start date will be based on finalizing a contract and the availability of the council’s first choice.

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