New county manager starts
January 28, 2015
During his first Summit County Council meeting as county manager last week, Tom Fisher was quiet and rarely chimed in.
"I’m very happy to be here, but it’s kind of an information overload right now," Fisher said. "I am spending the bulk of my time just absorbing information and meeting people, so that I can start to get familiar with what issues they think are most important."
While the County Council discussed permit requirements and an upcoming European trip, Fisher didn’t say much else the rest of the meeting. It was only his second day on the job.
On Jan. 20, Fisher replaced former county manager Bob Jasper, who retired on Dec. 17. Jasper served as the first county manager for the last five years, after residents voted to convert from a three-member commission to a five-member council/manager form of government.
When asked if stepping into a position previously held by only one other person made the transition more difficult, Fisher quickly replied: no.
"I don’t look at in that perspective, I think of it more as a challenge," he said. "All these things that have gone on have gone on without me before. Now, I’m just in the middle."
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Fisher came to Summit County after stepping down from his position as county administrator for Mesa County, Colorado. He has held multiple positions in Mesa County, including internal services director, regional services director and director of the Regional Transportation Planning Office.
Fisher has worked in both local and regional government since graduating from the University of Michigan. His first job out of college was as a regional transportation planner. He also worked at the Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization as a transportation planner in Cache County, Utah.
The County often refers to Fisher’s transportation background, openly stating it significantly contributed to his being chosen for the position.
"I’ve been around it for quite a long time and have got quite a bit of experience with cities, counties and states, to make sure we are working together," he said. "We have to work through and identify what those big problems are and figure out how we will assign some responsibility and come up with those solutions, some of which already exist and probably some that haven’t been considered."
Although he wasn’t in the county during the holidays, Fisher said the congestion that plagued the area is a "great jumping-off point" to start those discussions.
"We know there is a problem, now let’s see what we can do about it," he said.
While both city and county representatives are expected to travel to Europe next month to study transportation systems in the Alps, County Council members suggested sending Fisher, much to his surprise.
But instead, two County Council members will go as representatives, he said.
"In a collaboration process, like the Mountain Accord where things are at a very high level in terms of policy decisions, it would be most appropriate that those who will be involved with making those decisions go," Fisher said.
Fisher said he plans to continue exploring his role and duties as county manager.
"My basic philosophy is that is I am here to help translate the wishes or the collective philosophy of the County Council and what they want to accomplish," he said. "And then transfer that through strategic planning into a strategy that then the organization can act on.
"I see it as a facilitation role, as a kind of a driver toward those strategic goals," he added.
Officially a Summit County resident, Fisher lives in the Pinebrook area. His wife, Sherry, and their three teenage sons plan to remain in Colorado throughout the end of the school year before joining Fisher.
"Everybody has been so welcoming and that’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel good coming into this job," he said. "The activity and the contact with the council and the county staff, and how welcoming they’ve been, I’m very grateful for all that and I’m sure that will continue in the future."
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