Borough leaders in D.C. when bin Laden killed

Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby, left, assembly member Dave Kaplan and borough manager Rick Gifford pose for a photo with Sen. Mark Begich on their trip to Washington, D.C., this week. (Photo courtesy of Dave Kaplan)

KODIAK — Kodiak Island Borough manager Rick Gifford offered his formal resignation to the borough assembly at Thursday night’s assembly meeting, saying in a prepared letter that he will be taking a new job in June.

Gifford, who has served as the borough’s top unelected official since April 2005, will become the borough administrator of the Aleutians East borough, a job located primarily in Anchorage. Gifford said the move is due to family reasons.

“My wife’s family lives over there,” he said, “ and her mom is 86 years old.”

Gifford stated his intention to apply for the Aleutians East job during a work session two months ago, and negotiations were ongoing, but he only “consummated” the agreement Thursday.

Borough Mayor Jerome Selby said Gifford told him of the change earlier Thursday. “Sometimes family comes first,” Selby said during the assembly meeting. “We obviously hate to see you go but understand that family matters certainly have to take precedence in our lives. On behalf f the community, we appreciate the years of work you’ve done here.”

Gifford said his 90 days’ notice will allow him to oversee the borough’s budget process and avoid an overly awkward transition.

Gifford, a native of southeast Idaho, holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Before coming to Kodiak, he worked in Seward city government for 17 years, first as assistant finance director, then as director of finance and administrative services and director of administrative services before becoming assistant manager.

Gifford is a past president of the Alaska Government Finance Officers Association, and he served on the Alaska Public Utilities Insurance Trust board of trustees and the Alaska SeaLife Center board of directors.

When hired in 2005, he was chosen over fellow finalist and former state Rep. Dan Ogg to replace interim manager Nancy Galstad, who worked for less than a year after manager Pat Carlson was fired by the assembly.

Mayor Selby said finding Gifford’s replacement is likely to be an extended process and won’t begin until early April, when the borough assembly formally accepts Gifford’s resignation.

The job will be “advertised like anything else,” Selby said, with a deadline to apply. A subcommittee will review applicants until the full assembly reviews the final handful of candidates.

Selby said one of the things he’ll be looking for is a strong candidate from Alaska. “Many of the communities in Alaska can tell you stories of recruiting and hiring a manager from the Lower 48 who had no clue how things work in Alaska,” he said. “If there’s a qualified candidate who has an Alaska perspective, that gives them some serious points.”

Gifford said the hiring process could take longer than the 90 days before his June 13 resignation. “They’re going to have to consider what they want to do in the interim (after June 13),” he said.

In other business during Thursday’s meeting, the assembly:

• named Martha Barnett the borough employee of the year;

• approved the takeover of the borough’s garbage contract by Waste Connections, which purchased former garbage contractor Alaska Waste;

• approved the rezoning of an industrial plot at 220 Sargent Creek Road in Bell’s Flats to light industrial;

• approved the transfer of a plot of borough land to the city of Ouzinkie in order to host a cellphone tower to provide service for the north side of Spruce Island.

The borough assembly will travel to Juneau next week for the Kodiak community legislative reception on March 21. The next borough work session is at 7:30 p.m. March 29, and the borough’s next regular meeting is April 5.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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