Assembly taps Kiefer as next manager

Kim Kiefer speaks at a forum for city manager candidates on Jan. 24 in the Assembly Chambers. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly picked her as the city's next manager at its Tuesday meeting with an 8-1 vote. She will succeed Rod Swope, and her first day on the job will be April 1.

The city’s deputy city manager — Kim Kiefer — will be promoted to the top position once current City Manager Rod Swope retires March 31.


The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly finalized its hiring process Monday night. It met in executive session for 5 1/2 hours on Saturday to interview the candidates and discuss related hiring packages. On Monday, it met in executive session for 25 minutes before reopening the meeting to vote on the selection of Kiefer. Her appointment had one no vote, cast by Assembly Member Randy Wanamaker.

Kiefer was a finalist with Capt. Norman “Buddy” Custard, of the U.S. Coast Guard, after an initial candidate pool of 25 people.

Mayor Bruce Botelho asked for a roll-call vote, and all Assembly members indicated a simple affirmative — except Wanamaker who interjected with a longer negative vote.

“Given the economic and demographic selection and the compressed process we used and don’t have a plan to support the deficit, I cannot support the nomination,” Wanamaker said.

When asked later if he opposed the candidate selected or the process, he said both.

Wanamaker said the selection process was too compressed to be of benefit to the citizens.

Assembly Member Karen Crane said she was pleased with the process.

“We ended up with two fine candidates,” she said. “So it was a difficult decision, two very good people, lots of good experience.”

Crane said she is hoping for a smooth transition. She said they started the selection process so early that whomever was hired would have overlap time to learn from Swope. Swope has been city manager for nine years — apparently an anomaly for city managers.

Assembly Member Jesse Kiehl said he felt the opposite of Wanamaker.

“We spent a lot of time up here deciding on good or better,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a chance to decide between amazing and awesome — unless it was the other way around.”

Kiefer was happy about the nomination, and said she was humbled by the entire process. She said since she applied for the job people have stopped her in the grocery store, on the street and sent emails supporting her.

“I’m very honored and appreciative of the assembly for this opportunity for me,” Kiefer said. “It’s been a very humbling experience.”

Kiefer said over the next two months she plans on picking Swope’s brain as much as possible.

“That’s what I need to walk through — a year in a calendar of CBJ, cyclical things I need to make sure I’m aware of,” Kiefer said as examples. “We’re going through a budget process right now that he’s been involved in. The Marine Passenger (Fee) project list is something he’s always been involved with. I need to know how he’s done that process and how things got funded.”

Once Swope retires and Kiefer transitions into the manager slot, her first priority will be the budget. A series of Finance Committees will be weekly at that point.

Other than that, she will be working with the different departments and other organizations to see what needs to be done.

Kiefer does plan on hiring a new deputy city manager, but she said that decision and how it will play out, along with replacement of the finance director at some near future point, will be made a little further down the road.

“Just from the time I did both jobs, it was very apparent to me you need to have two people managing and juggling a variety of things that come up,” she said.

Aside from all the obligations Kiefer will have as manager, the thing she said she’s most looking forward to is working with and getting to know all the people involved — both within the city departments and the citizens.

A release from the city states Kiefer’s starting salary will be $145,000.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at


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