Douglas manager’s affiliation could be contract issue
July 22, 2017
Political affiliation may turn out to be an issue should county commissioners decide to renew County Manager Larry Werner's contract for another year.
North county resident Lynn Muzzy threw down the gauntlet on Thursday when he pointed out that Werner is a registered Democrat and that he would make that an issue in the 2018 commission election.
Muzzy spoke during public comment at the Lake Tahoe meeting of the Douglas County commission.
That was after a majority of commissioners expressed their support for extending Werner's contract through at least next year's budget process.
Douglas County is currently halfway though seeking a new assistant county manager.
County commissioner Dave Nelson said he was unwilling to extend Werner's contract beyond its expiration on Dec. 31, 2017.
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"I think it's time to start looking for a new county manager," Nelson said. "How soon can we start the process?"
However, county commissioners Steve Thaler and Nancy McDermid expressed their support for Werner.
"I'd like to see him for another two years," Thaler said. "I know of nobody who is more qualified to do the job. We find a good manager I like to keep them around."
Thaler, a Republican who is up for re-election in 2018, said he felt Muzzy's threat was uncalled for.
"We don't ask our employees what party they represent," he said.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to bring Werner's contract back to the September meeting for renewal.
Commission Chairman Barry Penzel, who was an early critic of Werner's, said he was impressed by how Werner worked with county employees after the departure of Jim Nichols.
"I've had disagreements with Mr. Werner, but believe I've seen the light," Penzel said. "I think he has the best interests of Douglas County at heart."
Either Werner or the county may end his contract with 30-days notice and no buy-out.
Werner said he would be willing to work for the county for as long as commissioners will have him.
A long-time Douglas County resident, Werner retired as Carson City manager before stepping in to run the county after Steve Mokrohisky moved to Oregon.
He returned after Nichols' departure.
Werner confirmed that he is a registered Democrat.
"I also vote for the candidate who appears best in my opinion regardless of their party affiliation," he said.