By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
With this week’s retirement announcement by City Manager Jim Crosby, the Yukon City Council will undertake the task for searching for his successor.
Crosby, who has been Yukon’s city manager for 22 years over two stints since 1994, told council members of his plans to retire next January after he turns 80 years old.
Over the next several months, the council is expected to consider Crosby’s replacement from both inside the City of Yukon and outside Yukon’s city government.
Internal candidates could include two longtime City of Yukon officials, Assistant City Manager Tammy Kretchmar and Development Services Director Mitchell Hort. Kretchmar served as interim city manager for several months before Crosby was rehired in early 2016.
A potential outside candidate is Jason Orr, who is now Piedmont’s city manager.
Crosby first served as Yukon city manager from 1994 until 2011 and has been city manager in Piedmont (2011-2016) and Norman (1975-87). His municipal government career started in 1964.
Crosby has offered to help guide Mayor Shelli Selby through the city manager search process. It will be up to all five city council members to review applicants, interview candidates and select Yukon’s new city manager.
“I have made some recommendations and had discussions with the mayor, but the ultimate decision lies with you in the future,” Crosby told the council at its Sept. 15th meeting.
The newest city council member, Aric Gilliland, said he was surprised by Crosby’s retirement announcement.
“I wish you the best,” said Gilliland, who became the council’s Ward 4 representative in May. “I know you have one of the hardest jobs around. There is no denying that you’ve done a great job for our community.
“In the short time we’ve worked together, I’ve learned quite a bit by just observing your interactions and the business you’ve conducted.”
‘END OF AN ERA’
A former city council member, Ward Larson, grew to admire Crosby while serving in office from 2003-10. Larson called Crosby’s retirement an “end of an era” in Yukon.
“I attribute the vast majority of success that Yukon has had – in the time that I’ve been familiar with city hall and before – to Jim Crosby,” Larson said. “We were lucky to have a unique city manager working on our behalf for all these years.
“I just can’t say enough.”
Larson, who was Yukon’s mayor in 2009, said Crosby had the innate ability to use his knowledge, foresight and creativity to develop plans that would be achievable as the community grew.
“It was truly a pleasure to see his plans,” Larson shared.
“He was outstanding with the council. He always made us kind of feel like it was our idea, rather than his.”
Larson believes the current city council has a significant challenge ahead finding a successor to fill the city manager’s post.
“In Jim Crosby, they have a fantastic measuring stick to lay any applicant’s achievements up against,” he opined.
Larson spent 44 years in the insurance claims and litigation field, most of that time in management.
“I’ve worked for and with many senior executives,” he said. “And Jim Crosby is as good as anybody I’ve ever worked with or for. That’s the standard by which I judge Jim.”
Yukon’s Jack Stewart, who has been Canadian County’s District 3 commissioner since 2010, said Crosby has done a “tremendous job” overseeing Yukon’s growth.
“Jim has been a great friend to Canadian County,” Stewart said. “He’s very easy to work with and always has an open ear to listen.
“Jim’s leadership, expertise and background have helped catapult Yukon to become the economic development ‘hub’ of the area. He has been the perfect fit for Yukon during the city’s growth period.”
Stewart described Crosby as the “right man at the right time” for Yukon.
“It will be extremely difficult for the city council to fund someone of his caliber to replace him,” the three-term county commissioner added.
Mayor Selby noted the many nights and “long” days over the years that Crosby has worked for the City of Yukon, away from his family.
“Mr. Crosby and I don’t always agree, but we have a wonderful working relationship and I hope that he will continue to mentor me in the ways of city government,” said Selby, who was the first person to give Crosby a hug after Tuesday’s meeting.