Park City Council challengers praise the service of former city manager
The departure of Park City Manager Diane Foster on Tuesday occurred in the final weeks of a Park City Council campaign that has lacked any real political tension and, in the days afterward, it appeared the move would not suddenly become an election issue.
Foster had been the city manager since 2013. Her departure was unexpected and was announced in a prepared statement from City Hall. Matt Dias, who was the assistant city manager under Foster, was named the interim city manager. The statement said the elected officials plan to talk to Dias about the permanent post.
The City Council campaign continues amid the shakeup at the Marsac Building. Six candidates are seeking one of three seats on the ballot. Two incumbent City Councilors — Nann Worel and Becca Gerber — are seeking reelection. The four challengers are Max Doilney, Ed Parigian, Deanna Rhodes and Daniel Lewis.
The two incumbents would have been expected to have had a role in the personnel discussions prior to the announcement of Foster’s departure. The four challengers, though, now must continue to campaign with a new set of circumstances at the Marsac Building so soon before the election. The city manager is the top staff post in the municipal government and has broad duties operating in a form of government that delegates much of the day-to-day power to the city manager rather than the elected officials.
Challengers in interviews praised the work of Foster, broadly describing her as a good city manager.
Doilney said he is not aware of the details of the closed-door discussions held by the elected officials that preceded Foster’s departure. He said he had a good relationship with Foster.
“I couldn’t question any party’s decision,” Doilney said.
He said he did not have an opinion about whether the elected officials should wait until after the Election Day winners are sworn into office in early January to appoint a permanent city manager.
Lewis called Foster “inspirational” as a city manager and described her as a “great mentor” who provided him a “civics crash course.” He was “shocked” with her departure, Lewis said.
“Keeping everything together and everyone accountable as much as possible,” Lewis said as he described one of Foster’s strengths as a city manager.
Lewis said it is in the best interest of the elected officials to fill the post on a permanent basis “as soon as possible” regardless of the election.
Parigian said he had a “good relationship” with the former city manager. He noted her work as he pressed City Hall to protect the field outside the Park City Library as permanent open space.
“I’ve always found Diane to be pleasant and she’s always been good to me,” Parigian said.
He said the City Council does not need to wait until after the Election Day winners take their seats to select a successor in the city manager post. He said he trusts the judgment of the current members of the City Council.
“I can work with whoever they choose,” Parigian said.
The Park Record was unable to contact Rhodes.
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