Ruth Dillon has been hired as the new Grand County administrator.
Grand County has been without a county administrator since Nov. 18, 2011. Dillon will be the seventh county administrator hired since 1993.
She has experience in the office.
Her job title for nearly five years has been “assistant to the county administrator”. In that role she has been the assistant to two county administrators: Shawn Warnke and Melinda Brimhall.
She has also served with no administrator in place, for four months after Warnke resigned and for nearly a year after Brimhall’s contract was not renewed.
“Ruth is amazing. She took a long time to figure out she even wanted the job. Everyone wanted her to apply a long time ago,” said Chris Baird, Grand County councilman.
Council chair Gene Ciarus said that she is extremely qualified.
“I’ve been trying to for five years to get Ruth to apply for the job,” Ciarus said. She’s the best candidate we’ve had for the job. She’ll do a great job, if the council doesn’t screw it up.”
In 1993 county management changed from a three-person commission to a seven-person council and administrator form of government. The average length of time an administrator has been in place is two years.
Baird said the council had a choice to take one of two directions. “One to hire someone like Ruth who could grow into the position: Or spend a lot of money to hire someone with 20 years of experience.”
During a search earlier this year the position was offered to a candidate with a wealth of experience from Florida. The council offered him a $75,000 annual salary. At the July 29 council meeting, Grand County human resources director Orlinda Robertson said that the candidate had followed up with a counter offer for an $85,000 annual salary.
“He asked for more than we could afford,” Baird said.
The council provided a counter offer, which the candidate declined. Robertson said the candidate is now working in Wyoming.
There are 19 departments within county government. Seven of those departments are managed by elected officials: Sheriff, recorder, attorney, clerk, treasurer, and assessor. The remaining twelve departments are managed through the council and administrator.
“You need someone who can negotiate rather than be the boss because there are independently elected offices. You need someone with a lot of tact,” Baird said. “Ruth has the disposition to be effective working in county government.”
Being closely associated with the office and the challenges other administrators had faced, Dillon hesitated before applying. It was only after closely reading the job description did she begin to seriously consider applying.
“I analyzed the job description to see if I could be of help, and realized I could,” Dillon said. “The position was clarified by the council before it was put out. It isn’t intended to be caught in political crossfire.”
Dillon has a master’s in behavioral science and was the co-founder of Team Building Systems, which was recognized by INC. magazine in 1989 as one of America’s the fastest growing private companies in their 500 List.
“I have to fill big shoes in this position, but I did then,” Dillon said, referring to her time with Team Building Systems. “I trust myself to manage myself. I can grow with it and hold it all together.”
“She is perfect as the person who could grow into the position. She has demonstrated the ability to work with everyone in the county,” Baird said.
Dillon plans to continue the open door policy.
“Ultimately we’re here to serve our citizens,” Dillon said. “I feel honored. This is a very entrusted position and I feel honored to be selected for it.”