Moffat County is a step closer to knowing who will serve as its next attorney.
A hiring board consisting of the Moffat County Commission along with current county attorney Kathleen Taylor, department heads and county employees met Thursday to interview candidates for the job.
Eight applicants applied for the position, three of which were interviewed Thursday by the hiring board. One candidate withdrew his application before being interviewed.
Taylor, who has served as the county’s legal counsel for eight years, announced her retirement April 7 in a letter to the Moffat County Commission.
Her last day will be June 2.
The county commission will name the next county attorney at its meeting Tuesday. The county will not release the candidate names.
Candidates were asked the same set of 24 questions ranging from topics such as knowledge of natural resources and public lands, to familiarity with Sunshine Law and the Open Records Act.
The hiring board also looked at each candidate’s skill sets, initiative, work ethic, personal values and interest in local government.
They also asked about how the attorney will interact with the media, take public criticism and deal with the stress and deadlines that come with the job.
The starting date of the new county attorney is not known, but Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said the commission is hoping to start the new attorney as soon as possible.
The county commission will determine the new county attorney’s starting salary based on the candidate’s qualifications. The new attorney is expected to start somewhere between $76,000 and $85,000 per year, Danner said.
After interviewing the candidates, the hiring board discussed each candidate, their qualifications and concerns each had about the individuals.
Commissioner Tom Mathers said the decision will not be an easy one for him to make.
“They all have great educations and they have all had countless jobs in different areas, which a lot of them weren’t county-type areas, but we aren’t going to find an attorney that is qualified in every aspect of the county,” he said. “(The new attorney) is going to have to be taught a lot of stuff.”
Mathers said there were small differences in the candidates but they were equally qualified for the job.
“Because all of (the candidates) were so close, I basically looked for personalities,” he said. “The honesty of the answering of the questions and where they came from, the size of the town.”
Mathers said he also asked how the candidates would handle the task of advising an ever-changing body of commissioners.
“We think one way, the commission does right now, but every two years it changes,” he said. “(The attorney’s) whole thought process might change if you get some green people in the commissioners office.”
Commissioner Tom Gray said he looked for a good work ethic, a desire for the job and the qualifications of each candidate. He said he felt one of the candidates was “clearly better than the others.”
Gray said personality played a factor in how he will evaluate the candidates also.
“Of course you look for that (as part) of all of the things you look for in a manager-type person,” he said. “It includes how they communicate and that is part of the personality.”