Community meets with Bloomfield city manager candidates

Hannah Grover The Daily Times
The Daily Times

BLOOMFIELD — The three candidates for Bloomfield city manager come from different backgrounds, but they all agree that the town has the potential to grow and develop.

Members of the community had a chance to meet the three candidates for the city manager position during a meet-and-greet session Wednesday evening at City Hall here. The twon has been looking for a new city manager since David Fuqua resigned in early April.

"I think they have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge to bring to the table," Mayor Scott Eckstein said.

Brian Redshaw, an Iowa native who most recently worked as city manager in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, from 2012 until 2013, said he brings knowledge about electric utilities; Eric Strahl, a former Oil City, Pa., city manager, said he increased the surplus while cutting costs in the small Pennsylvania town; and George Edes, who most recently worked in Skagway, Alaska, and currently lives in Pismo Beach, Calif., said he brings intimate knowledge of the oil industry. Edes, a former Standard Oil employee, most recently worked as borough manager in Skagway for three months in 2013 after having retired as administrative services director for Pismo Beach in 2011.

Strahl, who worked as Oil City's manager until January, was hesitant to comment on first impressions, citing one of his grandfather's favorite sayings: "You never know how deep a puddle is until you step in it."

He said he can see potential for the small community to promote a stronger mix of commercial and industrial businesses, as well as to increase tourism.

After the meeting, Strahl said that if he is selected, he will be open to input from community members and department heads.

"I don't necessarily plan to have all the right answers to all the questions," he said.

Edes agreed with Strahl that it's appropriate to approach first impressions with caution, but he had overall good impressions of the city.

He said he wants to conduct more analysis before he determines the city's needs.

"Listening, by the way, is something I learned long ago is an important part of being a manager," Edes said.

Edes said he has worked in previous communities to develop good relationships with local industries.

"If we work with it, we can find good ways of going forward together," he said after the meeting.

Redshaw drove down last week from western Colorado, where he was visiting, to spend time in Bloomfield.

"I saw the oil patch stuff right there on the edge of town," he said. "That's a thing of beauty."

He said in Iowa, people say pigs smell like money, and in Bloomfield, the same could be said about oil.

He was also impressed by the monuments in front of City Hall, including the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments.

"I thought that was so cool to see that," he said.

While he was impressed by the oil fields and monuments, he said Bloomfield also needs to attract more hotels and restaurants.

"It has potential for a lot of growth and development here," he said.

Redshaw's interest in utilities attracted him to the job because Bloomfield is currently trying to develop its own electric utility. He said Bloomfield could shop around to find the best price for power.

While utilities are one of his areas of expertise, he also sees potential for tourism.

"You've got to emphasize the positives of what we've got here," he said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.