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Posted on June 29, 2018 at 11:18 AM by Michael Churchill
1. Brief Bio—I am a Colorado native and have called Rifle my home for the last 20 years. I was raised in Englewood, and graduated from Englewood High School, the University of Colorado receiving a B.S. in Business (Production Management) and Colorado State University where I received my masters, an MBA in with an emphasis in general management.
After the Army, my first professional position was with the Atomic Energy Commission and its successor the Department of Energy at Rocky Flats. I worked there for 16 years and held positions including Procurement Officer, Budget Analyst, Contract Negotiator, Chief, Contracts Section, and Program Analyst. I then moved into private industry serving as Materiel Manager for Hughes Aircraft in Aurora, Procurement Office Manager for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, and Project Vice President for Fluor Corporation (the world’s largest engineering and construction company) at its 2,300 person environmental remediation project just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.
I came to Rifle in 1998 and became the Garfield County Manager. I served in that position for 13 years. My final stop was as Manager for North Palm Beach, Florida, a city of over 18,000 residents.
While in Florida, Linda and I retained our Rifle home and moved back in the summer of 2014.
2. How long have you served on Council—I have been on the Council since September of 2015.
3. Why did you want to serve on Council-- I was encouraged by then Mayor Jay Miller to run for Councilor. I did see it as an opportunity to serve my community and, where possible, share expertise I may have acquired over 25 years as a senior level manager in private industry and in local government. At that time, there were 5 vacancies and it was clear that several residents needed to step forward to fill the breach. I regarded it as both a privilege and responsibility to do just that.
4. What are my goals—I believe the most important aspects of council service involve listening and making good business decisions. In every meeting and in every interaction with residents and staff, I endeavor to do both. There are many things we can do to improve the service we provide to the community. But that all starts with critical evaluation of each function the city performs and transforming that analysis into improvements in work processes, programs, systems, employee training, equipment, infrastructure, and communication mechanisms. That is a lot to try to do all at once, but I see Council as a catalyst for change, assuring the city is progressing in its continuous quest to be an exceptional service oriented organization.
5. What are Rifle’s biggest assets—First and foremost is the natural beauty that surrounds our community and the many recreational opportunities that abound. Second, is the rich history of Rifle and its traditions of hard work and independence. Third is the strength and resourcefulness of our people which is emblematic of the western culture of our community.
6. What do you see as Rifle’s biggest concern—As a community, Rifle is a “tweener.” It is no longer just a small town that can get by with a small town approach to solving problems. It must employ tools of a larger and more sophisticated city to succeed. There are pressing needs in our community that must be addressed. We have aging facilities and infrastructure and the pool complex is certainly an excellent example of that. Our data systems need upgrades and our communication mechanisms to the public must be continuously enhanced. Our parks and recreation areas are stretched to the limit to provide the athletic fields necessary for the development of our youth. Our employees need recurring training in their fields of endeavor and we need to continue to keep our compensation packages current. Our senior population is growing and we need to address issues of concern there including housing, health care, diet, transportation, and quality of life. From an economic development standpoint, we must explore opportunities for the addition of primary jobs and we need to continue to support our existing businesses in sustaining and expanding their operations. Finally, we need to build wealth for the city. The only way to achieve the above objectives is to have funds ready to deal with the challenges. There are some time honored ways to do that. One is to do a good job of budgeting, assuring that we have scrubbed every aspect of it before approval. Second is to capture and retain vacancy savings created when an employ leaves our employ. Third is to regularly evaluate our spending activities and recapture dollars that won’t be spent in the fiscal year. Finally, we must expand our revenues by very aggressive pursuit of grants and other funding sources available and by encouraging people and businesses to relocate to Rifle and begin contributing taxes that support our projects and programs.
7.What is your favorite thing about Rifle—When I was a kid in the 50’s, I loved TV westerns and the excitement of being out in the west where you could be a part of the great outdoors and get a glimpse of the time honored traditions that unfolded a hundred years ago. My aunt and uncle lived in the Garden of the Gods just outside Colorado Springs, so I spent 12 to 15 weekends a year walking around the trails that wound through the Garden chasing imaginary big game and bad guys with my trusty air rifle. It made a lasting imprint in my mind. Additionally, my family visited the western slope regularly, and I fell in love with the idea of someday being a part of the Colorado across the “Great Divide”. Rifle is the embodiment of our western culture and Linda and I are thrilled to be a part of it.
8. What is your vision for the future of Rifle—I would like to see Rifle progress to a very successful mid size city that retains its character. That won’t be easy to do. There is a natural tendency to discard the old as we become more sophisticated as a community. I would like to see all of us retain the perspective we had when we were younger and try to combine progress and respect for our past in one fulfilling package. Rifle itself must recognize the inevitability of growth and must plan for it in a way that does not detract from the things that attracted us to it in the first place. This balance of history and progress is a tricky formula that Council must consider in every decision it makes. It is this vision that makes being a Councilor an exciting, rewarding, and sobering endeavor.
Each week or so for the next several months, we will be highlighting our City Council members. If you have suggestions for future articles or questions you would like answered, please contact Kathy Pototsky at email@example.com.
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