Craig city manager candidates meet their potential bosses during open house
July 18, 2018
CRAIG — Craig residents were given the opportunity to meet the three finalists to become Craig’s next city manager following hours of interviews on Monday, July 16.
The three candidates, former Kremmling City Manager Mark Campbell, Rangely City Manager Peter Brixius and Bermuda Director of Energy Jeane Nikolai, introduced themselves to the community they hope to work for during an open house event held Monday at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.
Nikolai told residents she served as Bermuda’s first energy director for nine years and is ready to advance from her current position. She described Craig as an attractive prospect for many reasons, adding that she likes how the community has invested in Craig for generations. She has served as a facility manager for the ministry of education and worked as an architect.
“One of the thing I would bring here is community engagement,” Nikolai said. “I think communication is the single biggest indicator of success. If you can communicate with your community, you’ll have success.”
Though she lacks direct experience as a city manager, Nikolai said she has worked closely with the upper echelons of city management in Bermuda and thinks she can move smoothly into the role of city manager if offered the position. As energy director, she was responsible for drafting policy for the country.
Renewable energy was important in Bermuda, Nikolai said, but in Craig, she added, it needs to make economic sense. She said she is friendly to coal and believes Craig first needs to develop other sectors before moving away from the industry.
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Campbell, originally from Northern Ireland, relocated to the United States about 20 years ago. He received his master’s degree in administration from Cleveland State University and served as a city manager in Missouri for eight and a half years, where he helped managed Mississippi River floods, river boat gambling, grant applications and a wastewater plant.
“I’ve done a lot of things and worn a lot of hats,” Campbell said.
In Kremmling, Campbell said, he helped boost the local economy by 45 percent over five years. He said he was able to accomplish that through community engagement, such as talking to the people and business owners and fostering partnerships.
He said he is familiar with how the city of Craig works and is aware of the issues the city faces in terms of broadband and transportation. If selected for the position, he feels he would have a head start on those issues and said he would organize and determine what other issues the city faces, encouraging people to work together to solve them.
Brixius spoke of his extensive background in the private sector before his city manager career. He worked with Fortune 500 companies, managed environmental testing laboratories, worked with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Core Laboratories and Kelly Services.
Throughout his career, Brixius said, he has been able to develop marking and business skills, which have helped him transition into his city manager position. He believes the decisions he made in Rangley have improved the quality of life for residents, adding that he hopes to do the same in Craig.
“I see a lot of economic opportunities in Craig,” Brixius said. “I think big things can happen here. … Bringing in technology-based jobs could help diversify the local economy.”
While all three candidates are diverse, with different backgrounds and skills, all agreed their interview processes were rigorous and tough.
The interview process was conducted by groups within the community and the Craig City Council, according to Mayor John Ponikvar. Now, the community groups will rank the candidates in order of who they think will be the best fit for the community.
Ponikvar said that, following the first round of interviews, second interviews will be conducted by City Council and himself, who will then ask for input from city employees and residents before making a final decision.
He said he hopes to make a final decision in early August and have the new city manager working by September.
Contact David Tan at 970-875-1796 or dtan@CraigDailyPress.com.