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Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments still looking for executive director

November 1, 2017 Updated: November 2, 2017 at 7:43 am
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Nearly 10 months after a local public agency fired its executive director, the organization is at least a month away from choosing a replacement.

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Board of Directors was scheduled to interview three finalists for the position and make a selection at its Nov. 8 meeting, but the decision was postponed after two of the contenders withdrew their applications, according to an email the agency sent out on Wednesday.

The board had originally planned to select a finalist and make an offer at its October meeting.

"It has taken longer than I would like," said Board Chairman Andy Pico, a Colorado Springs city councilman. "We need someone in there who's going to lead the organization long term."

The PPACG, overseen by a board of directors made up of public officials from across the region, allows its member governments to work together on large-scale projects. Some of its primary functions include long-term transportation planning and programming that offers assistance to seniors through the Area Agency on Aging.

The board in January voted to fire its past executive director, Rob MacDonald. MacDonald, who was paid $136,654 a year, was suspended from the position when the agency began investigating complaints from former employees. While exact reasons for his termination were unclear, Pico said the agency's high turnover rate and progress on the effort to widen Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock were factors.

The interim executive director is Rick Sonnenburg, who now holds the position in addition to his regular job as program and contracts manager for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.

The PPACG contracted with a management consulting firm, The Mercer Group, after the organization received a first round of about 20 applications that some board members found unsatisfactory. The contract is worth up to $60,000, although a spokeswoman for the organization could not say how much the PPACG had paid the firm as of Wednesday.

Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen, chairman of the search committee, said the board's final decision will be delayed at least a month. The committee will revisit a group of about 20 semifinalists - chosen by the firm from a pool of roughly 130 applicants - to come up with a few more finalists, he said.

"We definitely don't want to act in haste," said El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton, who also serves on the search committee. "We want to get the right person for this position who will be that collaborative community leader to keep PPACG moving forward in a positive direction."

Littleton said the two candidates withdrew from consideration for the position for personal reasons. One took a job elsewhere, she said.

The agency could not provide any additional information about the finalists or their professional backgrounds Wednesday.

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