Hiring a county manager is a difficult process

The last time Douglas County put out a call for county manager candidates it took nearly eight months to get someone to take the helm.

That included spending two months with an advisory committee that ended up rejecting all 11 of the candidates on former County Manager Larry Werner’s last day, Aug. 31, 2018.

A second process took place that resulted in commissioners picking Genoa resident Tom C. Stone as the finalist the week before Christmas 2018. Stone was in the position for a week in January before he resigned. Current County Manager Patrick Cates was one of a handful of candidates to be interviewed before the county offered the job to Stone.

Because Cates had worked for the State of Nevada for more than 20 years, the background check that may have tripped up Stone didn’t cause any trouble, and within a few weeks he was offered the job.

Cates came into the office while the county staff was still reeling from a major embezzlement scandal and spent much of his time reassuring employees in that first year.

Then came March 2020 and the coronavirus shutdown. In recognition of the issues related to the pandemic, Cates turned down a raise on his anniversary.

In 2020, a majority of the commission favored transferring federal recovery money to the Regional Transportation Commission, so it could be spent on engineering for Muller Lane Parkway.

In the first month of 2021, the new majority of commissioners decided they weren’t very happy with that action, and withheld a merit increase from Cates. By the following year, the same commissioners voted in favor not only of a raise, but also permitted Cates to move back to Washoe Valley.

Both Assistant County Manager Jenifer Davidson and Chief Financial Officer Terri Willoughby have indicated they would like to be considered for the position. We think either would be a fine choice. There are actually several county employees we would think would fit the bill.

Hiring people for a position like county manager is demonstrably difficult.

We would have been just as happy if Cates spent the next five years in the job.

But we’re all aging, whether in place or not, and time doesn’t wait for anyone. That brings its own obligations to family that sometimes override other concerns.


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