Routt County welcomes new county manager
Jay Harrington will officially join Routt County as its new manager Sept. 20. Harrington will be coming directly from working as town manager in Carbondale.
“I look forward to getting up there and hitting the ground running,” Harrington said.
He said his start date is too far out to name specific projects he will be focusing on, but he said he’s excited to help tackle two of the most hot button issues in Routt County — affordable housing and child care.
“I think I’ve got some good experience in public sector management in Colorado and work well with many of the state agencies, which we interact with at the county level,” Harrington said. “I think I do well under pressure and hope to bring some leadership to the staff.”
The county manager is tasked with supervising county employees, as well as advising the Routt County Board of Commissioners on policy issues impacting county residents.
“It feels like a really good fit with both the elected officials and the staff,” Harrington said.
While he has lived all over Colorado, Harrington said he has been traveling to Routt County for vacation and sports tournaments for decades, which is what prompted him to apply for the job and make the move. He previously worked in Cortez, Archuleta County, Telluride, Pagosa Springs and Durango, where he began his government career as a senior planner.
“Steamboat was on the short list of spots that I would move on to from where I am now,” Harrington said.
Tim Corrigan, chair of the Board of Commissioners, said he is confident Harrington will steer the county in the right direction.
“After a rigorous process examining several candidates, we concluded that Jay’s experience, honesty, ethics, unique background and cooperative leadership style will enable him to thrive as our county manager,” Corrigan said. “We are excited to have Jay join our team and help guide Routt County’s future.”
Since March 2020, Mark Collins has served as interim county manager. Collins, who took over the position right before the COVID-19 hit, described his time as interim manager as a “pleasant extended stay.”
“It’s been a really important professional experience for me,” Collins said.
Prior to working as a county manager, Collins worked in various governmental positions and as a vice president at the University of Wyoming.
Collins said Harrington’s experience in planning as well as working in other resort communities will help prepare him to tackle the largest issues in Routt County, which Collins said were housing, workforce services, transportation, climate action and transitioning to a renewable energy economy.
“All of those are going to be very important regional issues for him,” Collins said. “Thankfully, Jay has a great deal of really strong planning experience, so that’s going to be a bonus and a benefit.”
While Harrington will hold one of the highest appointed positions in the county, Collins said success in the job is heavily dependent on ensuring capable, qualified staff hold lower positions.
“The most important thing I’d emphasize is you need people that are giving you good feedback and providing you with the right tools so you can do your job responsibly,” Collins said. “You’re responsible for all the day-to-day operations and services of the county.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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