Carly Castle has been working as Moab’s official city manager for two weeks; before that, she was the acting city manager since September, and assistant city manager from 2019 to 2021.
When Castle was a Moab river guide in the summers of 2006 to 2008, she never thought she’d one day be Moab’s city manager—even when she was assistant city manager, she said, she never thought she’d stay this long.
“Initially, when I took the assistant city manager job, I was thinking I’d be in Moab for about two years, maybe three, just because of the nature of the job,” she said. But then, when she took on the role of acting city manager, she started enjoying the work more. She’s loved working with Mayor Joette Langianese, she said, who was elected to the position last November.
“I think we have a similar approach to public service, so it’s been a very positive, enriching environment,” Castle said. “So I got less comfortable with the idea of leaving.”
Moab Sun: What’s your day-to-day like, and what are some of your favorite parts of the job?
Castle: It really depends on the day—I can have a plan for the day and it gets completely upended by some sort of crisis, but those days are actually kind of fun. I spend a lot of time in meetings—I have about 30 to 40 meetings a week, typically. It’s mostly meeting with staff, council members, other government partners at Grand County or San Juan County, and a lot of constituents. And I work really closely with Joette. In the evenings I’m usually catching up on emails or producing documents if I need to for an agenda item.
Moab Sun: What are you most proud of accomplishing in the time since you’ve been assistant city manager?
Castle: I think achieving some sort of stability, especially with the way the last city manager departed. That was a really tough time, and it caught me by surprise—it was disorienting for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, and we felt that on an organizational level. I think providing stability in a place where people feel like they still want to work is a huge lift, and I’m proud that we kept most people aboard as much as we could.
Moab Sun: What are some of the things you’re doing to build staff cohesiveness?
Castle: The most important thing is recruiting the right people to the right positions, which is sometimes tough in this labor market. People can be choosy, and that means you have to be an attractive employer. They need to know that I’m going to be a good supervisor, that I’m going to be fair and reasonable. And they need to know also that their co-workers are going to be people they want to spend a lot of time with. It’s my role to identify those people, to try to get them on board, and then advocate with the council and the mayor about the resources staff needs.
Moab Sun: What are some of your goals, and how are you planning to achieve them?
Castle: The common theme that will be guiding at least the next year is community investment. That was identified during the strategic planning that we conducted about a month ago, and is a resounding desire that I hear from the community. They’re feeling disconnected from City Hall. They don’t feel like we’re responsive, they don’t understand what we’re doing and why. Bridging those gaps is really important.
I want to look inward at city residents and learn what their needs and desires are for the community. Residents are our primary constituent, but I feel like there’s a lot of noise with tourism, and it’s hard for residents to see past that. The community visioning and strategic planning that we’re doing will hopefully help with that, so residents know they were heard. We’ll commit to fixing those problems and delivering. I want to be much more of a public-facing city manager, once the internal things are cleaned up.
Goals that are policy-oriented are taking a look at code enforcement and code compliance, building the police department, finding housing solutions for the community and for employees, and in general continuing stability at city hall.
Other things that are exciting are the creation of the master plans: the water resource management plan, facilities plan, and parks plan that are all desperately needed. It’s unusual that we don’t have master planning for such wonderful community assets. We don’t have some of those foundational guidance documents that usually, that’s what I would pick up—I’d be like, what’s your strategic plan? And those would be my marching orders.
It’s difficult to give appropriate advice to the council when we don’t have the community buy-in, and instead we all have this consensus idea of how things should be. Because then my advice just becomes my opinion, which isn’t right—our decisions need to be based on what the community says.
Moab Sun: In what ways do you think the work has influenced you personally, and vice versa?
Castle: I’m good at keeping a work-life balance. The reason I care about this community is because I love living personally in this community, but sometimes this job does make it more difficult to get out for my afternoon trail run.
Keeping those boundaries makes me a better employee, a better boss, and a better and nicer person to deal with throughout the day. But I think this has been a tremendous opportunity for me to grow. It’s been unexpected—if you told me two years and eight months ago I would be city manager, I would’ve had no idea how I got here.
I think my personal life, my personal love of Moab, really helps inform my work. The reason I do my work is it’s very personal to me, in a good way. I’ve been in public service for my entire career. It’s great when you can be in public service for a community you love—it’s very fulfilling.
Moab Sun: Do you have anything else you want to add?
Castle: I’m so happy to be in this position and really honored by it. It means so much to me. I know there’s a lot of work that the city has to do, and I know that it has experienced a huge amount of tumult and turmoil. I’m working to rectify that and create certainty and stability.
And I have an open-door policy when it comes to residents—anyone can make an appointment with me.