Commissioners select 2 finalists for county manager position
Both have ties to Colorado and are currently working in the Mountain West
The current town manager of Carbondale and the executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association were named Monday as finalists for the Routt County manager’s position.
After winnowing down the field from 28 quality applications to six semifinalists, commissioners selected Jay Harrington, who has been in his role in Carbondale for a decade, and Jerimiah Rieman, who also spent eight years working with former Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, as their top two candidates.
Each of the candidates are currently working in the Mountain West and have spent time in Colorado, something commissioners were looking for in a candidate, hoping they would have familiarity with the area and not leave when the snow dumps.
Commissioners used letters to refer to the candidates in the meeting, and each of the commissioners said these two candidates were their preferred finalists. The county chose two candidates as finalists in the last search for a county manager last summer, but neither was selected to fill the role.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan raised a third candidate but said the other two were clearly ahead, and commissioners opted to pick just two finalists.
“If after interviews, we don’t have someone that we would like to offer the job to, then I think we just — it sucks to think about going back again, but I think we want to get it right,” said Commissioner Beth Melton, who said she also didn’t want to include a third candidate if they were not a real contender for the job.
Harrington has been with the town of Carbondale since 2011 and has spent much of his career working in Colorado municipal governments. He has previously served in manager roles for Cortez, Telluride and Pagosa Springs dating back to 1993.
What drew Harrington to the job was Routt County’s reputation and that it is in one of the most beautiful parts of the state in his mind.
“It’s got a reputation as being well governed and being a well run county in good financial shape,” Harrington said in a phone interview Monday. “I’ve been very fortunate to spend 30 years of my career on the Western Slope of Colorado and … Routt County aligns with my lifestyle and my interests.”
By working for several different towns and counties throughout his career, Harrington said he has learned a lot about how each of them are different and require time to learn about the community before taking specific action.
“Those dynamics between the rural outlying communities and more of the resort center is always an interesting dynamic, and I have been at the center of that a lot in my career,” Harrington said.
In Carbondale, there is an annual cattle drive through town, Harrington said, which gets harder to do each year but is an important part of that community’s heritage.
While most of his roles have been with municipalities, Harrington said he has always had strong relationships with respective counties, even when the two don’t necessarily align politically.
“I really look forward to working with the different local governments and the federal land managers in the area,” Harrington said.
Harrington has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and sociology from St. Lawrence University in New York and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Colorado Denver.
Harrington came to Colorado for graduate school in part because he enjoys the outdoor lifestyle, and he averages about 40 to 50 days on the mountain each year.
“My lifestyle is all in for what Routt County has to offer,” Harrington said. “I definitely live the mountain lifestyle.”
Rieman has spent much of his career in state government, serving first as natural resource policy director and later the director of economic diversification strategy for Mead in Wyoming. In 2019, Rieman took the role of executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, where he advocates for all of the state’s 93 county commissioners.
“It’s really been humbling for the last few years for me to represent counties in Wyoming,” Rieman said in a phone interview Monday. “I’ve worked around elected officials for nearly two-decades, and I feel that I have the ability to navigate the issues.”
Much of Rieman’s experience has to do with public lands, something he said he sees as an asset for Routt County.
“Working on public land issues, whether that be wildlife issues, recreation, agricultural interests, really things that I see as assets in Routt County, as well as looking at economic development and diversification,” Rieman said. “I know that there are assets in the community that are working on those things, but I believe I’ve got elements that I can bring to the position.”
While in the Governor’s Office, Rieman was part of passing the state’s Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming initiative, which laid out a 20-year plan to diversify the state’s economy.
In his current job, Rieman advocates directly for counties at the state level, and he also helped counties coordinate with Wyoming’s congressional representatives to deal with the effects of COVID-19.
Rieman has a bachelor’s degree in natural resource recreation and tourism from Colorado State University, and this summer, he expects to earn a master of legal studies focused on environmental law and policy from the University of Arizona.
Rieman said he spent about 20 days at Steamboat Resort this season and had been looking at potentially getting a second home in Routt County before he pursued the county manager role.
“We’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Routt County,” Rieman said. “I don’t look for short-term opportunities. I look for really investing in the work that I do and ensuring that my family is going to be happy where we are at.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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