Commissioners have two words of advice for recruiters looking to hire a new Douglas County manager: “Clone Steve.”
That was the general consensus Thursday as county officials, members of the business community and residents took to the microphone to say farewell to Steve Mokrohisky whose last day is April 11.
He begins work May 5 as Lane County (Ore.) administrator.
Commissioner Nancy McDermid tearfully read a proclamation honoring Mokrohisky who served as county manager for 2-1/2 years, and served Douglas County for five years.
She cited Mokrohisky’s commitment to long-term financial stability, insistence on transparency in government and successful efforts at partnerships as earmarks of his service to the county.
“He has put us in a leadership position,” McDermid said. “All we have to say to the recruiter for his replacement is, ‘Clone Steve.’”
“I don’t have a problem saying this,” said Sheriff Ron Pierini. “You are the best county manager we ever had. I seriously thought about having the SWAT team throw you in jail. You are honest, ethical and right to the point. We are certainly going to miss you.”
Retired Carson City County Manager Larry Werner — who was hired Thursday as interim Douglas manager — said Mokrohisky was one of his greatest assets while he was serving Carson City.
“There are not a lot of people you can reach out to and find them still at their desk after 5:30 p.m.,” Werner said. “I am going to hate to see him go.”
Former Commissioner Mike Olson described Mokrohisky as a problem solver.
“You still have a great many more people to influence,” Olson said.
Commissioner Barry Penzel commented on Mokrohisky’s ability to “deal with five different (commissioner’s) personalities and still come out smiling every day. You made every one of us feel we had a valid point.”
Assistant County Manager Christine Vuletich thanked Mokrohisky for the opportunity to work with him.
“You truly are a shining star,” she said. “Your integrity and willingness to listen means so much to everyone on staff.”
“I feel very overwhelmed and undeserving,” Mokrohisky said. “I accept your comments humbly, and know they are sincere.”
Mokrohisky, 36, acknowledged the praise, but said he was only one person in an organization filled with talented people.
“These things that happened here would not be possible without our common interests and our common actions. They happened because of a lot of people,” he said. “This has been a transformative period for Douglas County. We made the organization better because of a collective effort.”
He quoted Henry David Thoreau, “Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told.”
“My family’s story here reads more like a fairy tale,” Mokrohisky said. “I hope that’s OK.”
The board voted to hire Werner as interim county manager at $12,000 a month for six months during a national search for Mokrohisky’s replacement.
Werner, 66, is a Douglas County resident and served as public works director in the 1990s. He retired as Carson City manager in December.
Werner said he was honored to accept the job.
“I envisioned doing some interim stints, but I didn’t think it would be this quickly, and so close to home. I am proud to be a Douglas County resident,” he said. “I will try to keep the ship on the right course until you get a county manager, then I will bow out quickly.”
Commissioner Greg Lynn told Werner approving his contract was “déjà vu all over again.”
As a commissioner, Lynn said he worked with Werner on regional projects. He’d remodeled Werner’s house two or three times, and was a member of the panel that hired Werner in 1993 in Douglas County.
“We’re getting a bargain here,” Lynn said.