Meet the candidate finalists

For position of Gilpin County Manager

By Jaclyn Morrow

Meet the proposed candidates for the position of Gilpin County Manager. On April 25, 2017 Rodger Baker retired from his position as County Manager. The vacancy prompted 37 applicants to seek the position, of which eight were considered worthy of interviews for the first round. Only five of those interviewed, bringing Gilpin County the two qualified finalists: Leslie Ann Klusmire and Todd Leopold.

Wednesday, June 21, the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners hosted a gathering for residents and staff to become acquainted with Ms. Klusmire and Mr. Leopold at the Community Recreation Center. The County Manager candidates had spent the last two days learning about unique aspects of our county, its ways and some history, while meeting some of the current Gilpin staff and elected officials. They had many of their own questions answered in the process of getting to know the county and community.

About 20 of us waited outside the meeting room at the Recreation Center just before 6:30 pm on Wednesday evening, waiting for our turn to meet the finalists. Klusmire and Leopold were meeting with Gilpin employees at 6 pm in a more formal encounter than the public presentation the rest of us had with informal discussions.

The public was invited in at 6:30 where light refreshments were served. Upon entering we were offered a copy of each finalist’s introduction flyer, highlighting their public contributions. Printed surveys were also available so that county residents could give comments to the Board about the two candidates.

We mingled into a group to hear what was being said near each table set with the finalist’s name, the introduction flyer and a nut dish to sustain them through the evening. Each finalist stood by their table and had various residents come and go, listening to other’s questions and raising our own in discussions. Cordial introductions and hand shaking was found in groups by the finalists. Most of the public had finished their questions and completed a survey card indicating a preference, or simply commenting on the process, dropping it into the decorated box for the Commissioners by 8 pm.

With ladies first, County Manager finalist Leslie Klusmire has most recently been City Manager in Walsenburg, in Huerfano County, Colorado resolving some water delivery efforts, where regulations enacted decades after the system was originally developed, needed to have improvements made. Klusmire found funding opportunities for residents to resolve enforcing the health regulations. She is also currently giving support to a friend re-establishing her private law practice in Glenwood Springs. She recognizes funding resources have very specific restraints in Gilpin and is encouraged to find that even with much diversity in population that Gilpin County manages to stay united to function well together.  She has had much time living in small Colorado mountain communities (Telluride, Gunnison, Carbondale, Aspen, Craig, and Castle Rock) and other cities and counties in Colorado and Utah. She has a list of projects she has worked with in various communities that have brought improvements to the community in many areas. Insight from other coworkers who have worked for Gilpin County has given her a healthy sense of our history. Ms. Klusmire is drawn to Gilpin for its beauty, mountain history, and cultural arts wealth. Her grown children hopes she will settle here so they can come back to visit the state where they grew up. She enjoys outdoor living, chickens, bees, and is a visual artist and musician.

With over 20 years of public sector experience, Todd Leopold most recently served as the County Manager for Adams County, Colorado, currently living in Thornton. He has been recognized with a number of awards for creative achievements with counties resolving challenges effectively. He spoke of his potential role to be a two-way cooperation. He would be accepting responsibility for revealing to the Board of County Commissioners regulations and circumstances they are making decisions about. He in turn is to effectively manage Gilpin resources to facilitate the Commissioners decisions. It is his wide range of experience with city, county, and local government organizations in Colorado and New Mexico that reveal his strengths for this position. Mr. Leopold spoke of his desire to be more involved in our county. He hopes to also involve his family with two teenage daughters in our community. His wife of 20 + years and the children are his first priority and may not be able to move here immediately as his oldest daughter is a senior in high school this year. Leopold is a Colorado native, and enjoys our outdoors.

The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners looks forward to receiving community opinions of these two candidates. A decision will be made soon, but no date has been revealed.

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