City Administrator Mark Gorman will step down from the position in six to nine months. He announced his decision during last Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting (09-13-16).
Speaking with KCAW today, Gorman said he’s resigning for both personal and professional reasons. He commented that the average tenure for city administrators in Alaska is 2.5 years and that his three year anniversary is next month. The former SEARHC vice president began his tenure in October of 2013.
Gorman: I love this community. It’s been my home for 40 years. I see, as I move around the community. that there’s a fatigue in terms of my role as administrator growing in certain members and sectors of the community. I think it’s important to recognize that and allow the community to refresh at some point in time. And that’s a hard decision because I want to serve the community to the best of my ability. My mother often used to say, ‘Leave a party when you’re having a good time,’ and I’m having a great time. I don’t want to look at the downhill slide that I think often happens in these kinds of positions. I think the other more important thing is that I’m 63 and there have been a number of events in my own family and of friends’ [families] in the last couple of years that have reminded me there is a limited amount of time on our clocks. There are other things that I and Nancy want to do in the next few years and it’s important to take a look at those things.
Gorman has received consistently high marks from the Assembly. He’s given the group a 6-9 month window in order to look for a new city administrator. He also wants to remain in the position to guide the FY18 budget process, which will be accelerated to end in March instead of May. The legislature will still be in session, but Gorman says next year’s budget will not expect much in state contributions.
To the next city administrator, Gorman has the following advice: “You’ve been selected for probably one of the best jobs in Alaska – to serve in the most remarkable community in Alaska, if not the United States. This is an incredible place and it has been my privilege to serve Sitka in this capacity,” he said.
Of Gorman’s leadership, Sitka Mayor Mim McConnell said she appreciated his open-door policy, creative problem solving, and visibility, especially during the landslides on August 18th of last year that took the lives of three men.
“He’s been the administrator during some difficult years, and I think he’s been the right man for the job. Mark is a pretty calm, centered kind of person and I think that strength that he offered during that time especially was helpful. And I think that’s been a good quality for him as administrator too,” McConnell said.
This year will see significant changes in Sitka’s leadership. Brian Hanson, a local private practice attorney, will begin as city attorney on Monday, September 19th and Mayor McConnell is not seeking re-election this year.
McConnell is encouraging the future Assembly to keep their immediate goals in mind when hiring the new administrator, given that most serve for two to three years. “What are the needs going to be? What kind of skill set is going to be needed to help get us there? I think that’s a better approach than looking at the people and saying, ‘We’ll let’s take this person and then we’ll just take our chances on whether they’re going to get us there or not.’”
Gorman has not announced an official end date for his term, so the process for hiring Sitka’s new city administrator has not yet begun.