Then-Clerk/Auditor Chris Baird swore in Gabriel Woytek as County Commissioner in 2019. [Moab Sun News file photo]

Several office staff at Grand County have taken on new roles over the last several months as the county strives to keep up with growth, update policies and strategies, and plan for the future. Chris Baird, who previously served as the Commission Administrator, has moved into a newly-created Strategic Development Director position. Mallory Nassau, former Associate Commission Administrator, has stepped into Baird’s former role; Quinn Hall, who until recently served as the county’s Clerk/Auditor, has taken on Nassau’s old position. At their Mar. 2 meeting, Grand County commissioners voted to appoint then-Commission Chair Gabriel Woytek to serve the remainder of Hall’s term. Woytek was sworn into the new position on Mar. 4, and at the same time resigned his seat on the commission, leaving a vacancy in the county’s legislative body.

As the county has grown, county staff have taken on more projects and they’re finding increased complexity in the basic services they offer. Leadership is tackling that by hiring more staff and addressing outdated plans and practices, but there are two major obstacles to hiring new employees: the county lacks office space for people to work from, and it’s difficult for prospective employees from outside the area to find housing in Moab. Staff are making the best of a tight situation, and they’re optimistic about the strength and dedication of the current team.

Strategic Development Director

Baird explained that his new position has two main components: chief financial officer and project manager. Baird has been in charge of drafting and managing the county’s budget since he served as Clerk/Auditor, a position he left to become Commission Administrator in 2019. He’ll continue to carry out budget duties in his current role, including administering the county’s purchasing policy, reviewing and drafting contracts, and issuing requests for proposals. Baird will also write grants and legislative amendments related to financial matters, manage taxes, debts, and financing agreements, and track the county’s financial position over time to inform strategic decisions.

The project manager side of the position includes overseeing large-scale projects like active transportation infrastructure (such as the Spanish Valley multi use path or the Colorado River path); local amenities like parks and playgrounds; affordable housing efforts; climate resilience efforts; county infrastructure needs like storage and office space; and organizational studies and recommendations.

“Grand County’s organizational structure is quite flat, and is totally missing any mid-level management,” he said. Right now, part of his role will be covering that mid-level management gap until the county can find more space for more employees.

“The current positions that we’ve created in the Commission Administrator’s office are making do with what we have right now, and establishing the ability to move forward on our strategic objectives and goals in the absence of a best practice organizational structure,” Baird said.

Commission Administrator and Associate

Nassau has served at the county for two years. Before joining county staff, she worked at the school district as a community coordinator, where she got to know many community organizations and issues. Before that, she was living in Colorado and working at the state court administrator’s office, where she gained knowledge and skills in determining best practices and analysis. She brought those skills to Grand County when she was hired as Associate Administrator.

Nassau will continue to carry out many of the same duties she fulfilled as Associate Administrator in her new role as Commission Administrator. She describes herself as a “generalist,” doing a little of everything to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. She supervises department heads, reviews contracts and requests for proposals, and fields issues as they arise, whether it’s a problem within a department or a citizen concern.

“You come in and you think, ‘here’s my to-do list,’ and then at the end of the day, you go home with a longer list and nothing marked off,” Nassau said, but she enjoys the task of facilitating operations. Some of her projects and goals include updating policies and procedures and improving efficiency.

“A lot of things we’re doing because we’ve always done it this way,” she said. For example, many things that get printed out could be shifted to digital-only form. “One day I would love to go paperless,” Nassau said.

She’s also looking forward to returning to in-person meetings soon, and re-establishing relationships and communication that may have languished during isolation. Nassau joined the county in the spring of 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic prompted mass shut-downs and a state of emergency. She’s never had the opportunity to attend an in-person commission meeting during her time working at the county; meetings had already shifted to Zoom when she began. She hopes to get all department heads together in person some time this spring.

“They’re the ones that know the most about their departments, they’re the ones with killer ideas. That’s the easy part of my job, is letting them shine,” Nassau said.

Hall joined the county in early 2020, shortly before Nassau, coming from a career as an environmental consultant. After serving for two years, Hall says he’s quite familiar with how the county works, and feels comfortable with the team and stepping into the Associate Administrator role. He’ll have the dual responsibility of training Woytek, the new Clerk/Auditor, at the same time that he’s learning the ropes in his new position.

“It’ll be a long transition—a few months of me training and being trained,” Hall said. He appreciates that the new Clerk/Auditor has experience working at the county already.

“The institutional knowledge that anyone brings to government is a huge asset,” he said.

Clerk/Auditor

Woytek said that even before the Clerk/Auditor position opened, he hadn’t planned on running for re-election to the county commission. While he said he felt he’s “put in a good run”—he joined the commission in 2019—the position is highly demanding and difficult to balance with another job. Commissioner positions are paid as part-time, though it’s a very complex and time-consuming job.

“In some ways, there’s a limitation for a younger person being on the commission,” Woytek said. “We’re at a state in our lives where we’re not necessarily so established in a career. The people who can swing it best are people who can keep one foot in a well-established business that they’re already in.”

He said he was looking for “other ways to have a positive impact in the community while seeking a little more stability for me and my family,” and the Clerk/Auditor position was a good fit. Of swearing in on March 4th—a homonym of “march forth”—he said, “I feel like that’s a good omen to start a new endeavor.”

In addition to his experience at the county and going through the budget cycle as a commissioner, Woytek has served on the boards of nonprofits and had to maintain records and spreadsheets in those roles. He’s also somewhat familiar with the election side of the Clerk/Auditor role from the perspective of having run for election.

“I’m highly motivated to prove myself this year and learn as quick as I can and put in my time,” Woytek said. He’s planning on running to be elected to the position when the term ends in December. ‘I’m excited about the idea of this being a long-term proposition and being of service to Grand County and its residents,” he said.

Woytek emphasized that the positive working relationships he has established with other county staff were a large part of his decision to apply for the Clerk/Auditor position. Other staff also praised the positive environment and dedicated team at the county.

“I think we’ve got a solid staff at the county,” Hall said. “Fantastic, skilled, knowledgeable about their jobs.”