Swope decides to stick around

City manager agrees to return to the job after six-month break

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Juneau has found its next city manger, who also happens to be its current one.

The Juneau Assembly called off its search after City Manager Rod Swope agreed to keep the position, Mayor Bruce Botelho announced Monday.

Swope previously announced his resignation effective May 1, but he will now return to his current role following a six-month separation. The Assembly unanimously approved the agreement.

"The decision to approach Mr. Swope about a second term occurred because the Assembly has supreme confidence in his abilities as city manager," Botelho said in a statement.

Swope cited burnout as his initial reason for wanting to resign, but said the hiatus would give him "a good chance to get my batteries recharged and focus on some personal things."

"This is a great job, and I've always enjoyed the job and the challenges it brings," said the 35-year Juneau resident. "I recognized I was hitting burnout, and when you feel that way, it's time to go."

Deputy City Manger Kim Kiefer will fill in for Swope from May 1 through Oct. 31, at which time Swope will take over again. Kiefer has worked for the city for 25 years and has been the deputy city manager for the past three.

City officials had already conducted one round of searches and were in the process of starting anew because none of the three finalists during the initial search had all the preferred qualities.

"At the end of our initial search, we were not satisfied the finalists fulfilled our expectations for what an outstanding city manger would be and what Juneau needs," Juneau Assembly member Jonathan Anderson said. "In the beginning of the process, we said to ourselves that if we don't find the right person we will not just hire the best available."

Anderson said neither he nor other members of the Assembly thought keeping Swope would be an option, but said personally he is "enthusiastic about it."

"I think he's an incredibly conscientious, hard-working and dedicated person," Anderson said, adding that Swope's experience will come in handy putting together the city's budget while it tightens its belt. The city manager oversees about 700 employees and an annual core city budget of about $85 million.

Swope said he is looking forward to working with city officials to resolve issues of recycling and waste management, after he gets a breather. He intends to spend the summer visiting family and fishing with his son.

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