WINSLOW, Ariz. - On Jan. 6 Steve Pauken will leave his job as Bisbee's city manager to start a similar job as Winslow's new city manager.
Pauken spent eight years as Bisbee's city manager. He said he made a lot of progress there but is ready for a change.
The short answer is, "It's time to move on," Pauken said.
The longer answer reflects what Pauken perceives as changing priorities for what his focus should be as a city manager.
"In the last year and a half the focus seems to be less on running the nuts and bolts of the city and dealing more with issues like fluoride in the water, things like that that, while meaningful of course to everyone, those aren't the nuts and bolts," Pauken said.
He said that since the most recent mayor and new council members had come in, the council had talked about getting rid of their full-time fire department and replacing it with a volunteer fire department, getting rid of the police and fire chief and hiring one public safety director and cutting out employee benefits including health insurance benefits, which he said is one of the most important things people look for in a job.
"I've always been the type of manager that when my employees are doing good work I'm going to support them and I have the feeling that that is not a priority here as much as it used to be," Pauken said.
He said that it was not a surprise to the Bisbee mayor or city council that he was looking for a new job. But he will miss Bisbee.
"[My wife] Peggy and I are very fond of (Bisbee), and fond of the people who live here, our friends and neighbors and that's going to be tough to leave," Pauken said. "Winslow is going to give me an opportunity to build new relationships and make new friends."
Pauken said he immediately felt comfortable during his interview and that the mayor and city council of Winslow are looking for the same things he is in building and revitalizing Winslow as a community.
"I had the sense when I left the room they were going to be welcoming in nature, certainly aware of my background and capabilities... because it was more of a conversation than an interview about common desires and goals," Pauken said.
When Pauken and his wife came to look around Winslow he saw exactly the steps Winslow has already taken to revitalize certain parts of the city and was impressed with what he saw.
"Everybody we ran into, everybody we've worked with so far..., are friendly people. That reminded me a lot of Bisbee," Pauken said. "Your ability to fit with a community you serve and the ability of the community to be the kind of [place] that fits what you like doing... I felt very comfortable with the fit, and I have to believe, so did the city council," Pauken said.
He said Winslow reminds him of his hometown in Ohio. The town had a number of boarded up businesses in its central business district and the community invested in shoring up that part of town.
"The thing that I like about Winslow, the staff, mayor and council is that they are focused on... recommitting the community to its own vitality and sustainability," Pauken said. "I really like Winslow as an opportunity."