Don Van Wormer, the current city manager of Monte Vista, will start work as Castle Pines' new city manager Oct. 7.
After a several-month process involving candidates from across the country, the council found their new manager close to home.
“Good community relations are key for effective government, and something very important to me,” said Castle Pines Council Member Tera Radloff. “I was looking for a candidate that would exceed our citizens' expectations for maintaining positive relationships with them, our community organizations, staff and council.
“We did an extensive, 360-degree approach in our interview process and Don was very engaged with everyone at every level and step of the process.”
Van Wormer, who will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision and management of the city, expressed excitement in an Aug. 15 interview about living and working in Castle Pines.
“There's so much opportunity out there,” he said, a word he uses often when describing Castle Pines.
When he toured Castle Pines with Sam Bishop, the city's community development director, he said he was thinking “opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.” He said this community, with all its open space, has the opportunity to create its own vision instead of trying to retrofit its vision like many communities that have existing downtowns to redevelop.
He has about 20 years experience in the field: first as manager for Hinsdale County, then was Kremmling's manager, and then Monte Vista's. He said if there's a pattern to what he's left behind, it's that, “I've always left the community in better shape than when I came.”
He said in Monte Vista, where he has been manager since 2004, the biggest issue was fiscal stability and with Kremmling it was infrastructure needs.
"We are excited to include Don as part of our team here in Castle Pines,” Castle Pines Mayor Jeffery Huff said. “We look forward to his fresh perspective in managing our city based on his knowledge from working with other Colorado counties and municipalities.”
Van Wormer grew up in California, served in the Navy and for some time used his skill set from the Navy to work as a systems engineer for-multi-international corporations.
He moved to Grand Junction, Colo., in 1982 to start a communication-equipment company. He later entered college and earned a bachelor's in history from Mesa State College with the intent to eventually teach history at the college level.
But a friend of his, then Mesa County's manager, urged him to apply for a program now called the “Best and Brightest Program,” sponsored by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which was meant to draft promising talent into the public administration field.
Van Wormer was selected and mentored for two years, working as a policy analyst for Mesa County under the county manager's direction, and received instruction and work experience in budget analysis, infrastructure issues, emergency management and so on. After that program, Van Wormer was hired at Hinsdale County and his public-administration career kicked off.
Van Wormer, whose salary will be $105,000 annually, is looking for housing opportunities in Castle Pines. He will move here with his wife, Karen Van Wormer. They have two grown children who live out of state and three grandchildren. Don Van Wormer said he's an enthusiastic outdoorsman and fly fisherman. He said he has a bag of golf clubs, and a love for the game, but can't call himself a golfer.