Laurie Simonson [Photo courtesy of the City of Moab]

Moab City Manager Joel Linares resigned his position at the City of Moab effective at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7. He had held the position since May 2019, and before that, served as the assistant city manager from October 2018 to May 2019.

Linares did not offer his reason for leaving, nor did he mention any future plans. According to city officials, he gave his two weeks notice the week of August 23, but publicly announced his resignation that Tuesday afternoon at a staff meeting.

Linares is the latest in a series of resignations, including former City Attorney Laurie Simonson and Emily Sukiennik, former director of the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center.

At the August 24 Moab City Council meeting, both Sukiennik and Simonson referred to institutional problems as their reason for leaving.

“I had raised concerns that I feel were inadequately addressed,” said Simonson, who was hired in November 2019. “It’s time to move on.”

Simonson left her position on September 3, commenting that she believed she could not “effectively serve the City of Moab any longer.”

Sukiennik said that she believed other departments were favored based on friendships and intimate relationships. Sukiennik left her position in July 2021 after working for the city since September 2019.

“The MRAC is not favored by superiors, and is seen as a financial burden,” she said. “I was treated as if I was an inconvenience.”

Linares issued a statement following his resignation, saying that the “city is lucky to have excellent professional staff who are dedicated to serving our community.”

I’m honored to have had the chance to work with all of them and I will miss them,” Linares said in the statement.

In May 2021, the Moab City Council voted 5-0 to place Linares on leave for a “personnel issue.” He remained on paid administrative leave for five weeks before being brought back in June, following a 3-2 vote. In his position as city manager in 2021, he was the highest paid city employee, with a total compensation of $236,301.46.

Councilmembers Rani Derasary and Karen Guzman-Newton voted against reinstating Linares. Derasary declined to comment on Linares’s resignation, but said she wishes Linares the best. Guzman-Newton did not respond to a request for comment.

Assistant City Manager Carly Castle will fill the position as the acting city manager. Moab City Communications and Engagement Manager Lisa Church said that the city doesn’t have any details currently about when recruitment for the city manager position will take place.

In a statement, Castle said that Linares was “a guiding force during many difficult challenges facing Moab over the past two years.” City work and services will continue, Castle said.