Steamboat Springs City Council could hire new city attorney on Tuesday
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs City Council members could decide Tuesday night who they want sitting on the dais with them to provide legal advice in the years to come.
After more than three hours of interviews with four candidates last week, it wasn’t immediately clear who will be offered the job that has become vacant for the first time in more than two decades.
Candidate Bob Choate, currently the assistant county attorney in Weld County, ended up on most of the council members’ shortlists and appeared to be the leading candidate based on the council’s comments.
However, some council members cautioned their rankings of the candidates were all very close, and they said they needed a week to think about the decision.
Council members praised Choate for his confidence, his professionalism, his ease of style and for having a “fire in his belly.”
Candidates Jim Moylan, who has practiced law in Steamboat since 2003, and Daniel Brotzman, the former city attorney in Englewood, also appeared on the shortlists of multiple council members.
Assistant City Attorney Dan Foote, who has worked for the city for 17 years, was one of Council President Walter Magill’s top choices, because of Foote’s institutional knowledge and experience in Steamboat.
But Councilman Scott Ford, who identified Choate as his top choice out of the four, said he did not see Foote making the top tier of candidates based on the comments of Ford’s fellow council members.
Ford said the hiring decision will be one of the council’s most important ones, and he did not want to make it in haste. He also expressed a desire to have more candidates to choose from for the job.
In addition to the city manager, the city attorney is one of two employees who serve at the pleasure of the council.
Former City Attorney Tony Lettunich suddenly resigned last week, the day after the council conducted interviews with his potential successors.
The council was expecting Lettunich’s resignation and retirement sometime before the end of the year, but the short notice Lettunich provided came as a surprise to some.
Lettunich had served as the city attorney since 1994.
Council members kicked off their interviews with the attorneys by disclosing potential conflicts of interest.
Councilwoman Kathi Meyer noted that she accepted a $100 donation from Moylan during her council campaign in October, but she did not feel the contribution would affect her decision on who to hire.
Meyer’s fellow council members did not feel the contribution constituted a conflict of interest.
Some other council members noted they too had been approached by one of the attorney candidates and offered a donation, but they did not accept the contribution.
The council asked each attorney candidate several questions, including how they have handled ethical dilemmas and oversight of open records requests and open meetings laws.
Before they started the interviews, council members noted they had received a newspaper article about Brotzman detailing his recent departure from Englewood.
A newspaper in that city quoted a new mayor as saying a new council majority did not want to work with Brotzman, and many of the issues centered on a mistake on a recent fire service contract with the city of Denver, which has since been corrected.
The Englewood mayor called Brotzman a “consummate professional.”
The Steamboat council will consider making a job offer for a city attorney sometime during its meeting Tuesday night.
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