It seemed clear in the years before the 2002 Winter Olympics that City Hall leaders were grooming Tom Bakaly to become the Park City manager some day after the Games.
His rise was unprecedented, starting as the finance manager and then progressing into two positions that were crafted for him to fill -- directing City Hall's budget and capital programs and then assistant city manager.
He completed his climb through the ranks once Toby Ross, the city manager through the boom years of the 1990s and then during the Olympics, left for a post in California.
But nine years later, and with Bakaly preparing to depart to become the city manager in Hermosa Beach, Calif., there is not a clear front-runner to succeed him from the ranks of City Hall. It is a situation that has not confronted a mayor and Park City Council since the late 1980s.
The elected officials of that era found Ross, who brought with him a high-powered academic background, to oversee what was correctly forecast to be a period of blistering growth in Park City.
Now, it appears, there could be another outsider hired for the top staff position. In the two-plus weeks since Bakaly's departure was announced, there has been speculation among City Hall staffers about who, if anyone, within the organization could beat out a field that could reach several hundred for the post.
The chatter, outside of public settings, has intensified since Diane Foster, the deputy city manager and the person who will become acting city manager once Bakaly leaves, indicated she would not seek the permanent position. She has said the deputy position remains new to her and she is pursuing a masters degree in public administration that takes some of her time.
Nobody within the municipal government has publicly stated they would submit their name as a candidate for the permanent position, and there are probably only a few with a background that would be competitive among a nationwide field.
Williams has declined to comment when asked if he anticipated internal applications. He has said he wants the next city manager to have experience in government positions and be familiar with growth issues and the economies of resort communities.
Some top-level City Hall staffers could offer the sort of resume Williams described. There are others who now work for City Hall, less experienced, however, whose background could match what the elected officials are seeking as well.
It might not be known whether someone from inside the municipal government seeks the position. The names of the people who apply are anticipated to be tightly guarded throughout the process, as was the case when Bakaly was hired. His candidacy was widely publicized, though, given his long-known interest in succeeding Ross.
Bakaly's last day at City Hall is Aug. 24. Foster becomes acting city manager upon his departure. Park City is preparing to secure the services of a recruiting firm to assist with the hiring process. The elected officials have indicated they want the next city manager selected by the end of the year.