At a brief special meeting of the Telluride City Council on Tuesday, Greg Sund, of Trinidad, Colorado, was selected from a field of four candidates to fill, on an interim basis, the position vacated by former City Manager Ross Herzog l ‘last year. Director of Public Works Paul Ruud and Director of Finance Kailee Ranta have served as co-managers of the city since Herzog’s departure at the end of the year. The position is officially known as acting city manager, with an expected timeframe of “three to four months,” according to Mayor DeLanie Young. The board voted unanimously to award the position to Sound.
Sund comes to the director’s office with 27 years of professional local government management under his belt. Most recently he served as City Manager of Trinidad from 2017 to 2019 and last year served as Acting City Administrator of Walsenburg. He also served as city or county administrator for the first time in Spearfish, South Dakota, Dickinson, North Dakota, and Ellis County, Kansas. In Hays, Kansas, he assumed the role of Director of Public Works.
The self-confessed ‘gym rat’ and avid cyclist was bitten by the public administration bug – he has a master’s degree in the field – while living in Deadwood in the early 1980s.
“As I learned more about city government, I decided to run for office as a city council member. I was elected to this position in 1983,” Sund told the Daily Planet. “However, in the same year, voters decided to move from a mayor and council form of government to a city commission form. This meant that to continue to be involved, I had to run for City Commissioner a year later. I was elected to that position and served four years as the city’s finance commissioner.
A student at the time, he guided the city in converting from paper accounting to the use of accounting software. He began his dissertation in public administration while also working for Rapid City, South Dakota, first as a volunteer in the mayor’s office and then as a public works intern. His first full-time job after graduation was as a city finance officer in Platte, South Dakota. Since then, he has worked in public administration, with the exception of a one-year position as regional director of the South Dakota Small Business Development Center.
His work in Colorado includes a pair of notable accomplishments. Sund worked with the Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) on the purchase of a 19,200-acre ranch south of Trinidad that Governor Jared Polis named the 42nd park in State in 2019. He also helped plan and implement the first rural Space to Create project in Colorado, which provides 41 living/working units for low-income artists.
Sund reflected on what Trinidad and Telluride have in common.
“Both towns have tourist attractions, but the appeal of Telluride is obviously much larger, with the possible exception of marijuana sales,” he said. “Because Trinidad is the first community in Colorado when entering the state from Texas or I-25 in New Mexico, marijuana sales are doing very well.”
He actually finds that Deadwood may have more in common with Telluride.
“Deadwood is a town that focuses on the visitor industry due to its history and while I lived there it also had a thriving ski industry with two ski resorts just outside of Lead in the South Dakota,” Sund said. “One of the challenges for Deadwood was to convince skiers to stay for several days by making activities in Deadwood more attractive, especially in the evening. The draw of Deadwood these days is the game, which has changed the town so much.
City or government management work can make for a traveling life, but it’s a life he and his wife, Elizabeth, have enjoyed.
“While moving is a challenge, I’ve come to accept that changing jobs in local government management usually requires relocation, especially to areas outside of large populations,” Sund said. “In my career, I’ve lived in South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, and now Colorado. (We’ve) really enjoyed exploring the area and the states we’ve lived in. Colorado doesn’t do exception.
The lure of living in a mountain valley is reminiscent of its Deadwood days. The recreational opportunities, he said, are obvious, especially for his pursuit as a dedicated cyclist.
“I’ve loved riding my bike all my life,” the self-proclaimed “gym rat” said. “I stopped riding on paved roads about 10 years ago and bought a cross-over bike. Since then I’ve been spending more time on back roads and gravel roads. bought a mountain bike a few years ago and enjoyed real off-road experiences.
He also relaxes with art, focusing on drawing, watercolour, calligraphy and goldsmithing.
When the city council interviewed Sund, he told council members and Young that he applied for the position because he was acting, but told the Daily Planet he would be willing to settle for a longer stay.
“I have no objection to continuing to serve in this field full time and may consider the position full time,” he said.
Its main objective is to serve the community.
“I think the greatest attraction of this profession is the opportunity to make a difference in every community we serve.”