Despite semantics, decision regarding chief of staff demands public input

The recent promotion of Police Chief Richard Adriaens to city chief of staff has left many Sheridan residents scratching their heads. When did this happen?

The decision wasn’t talked about in public meetings, nor was it advertised. Typically, in the past, the city of Sheridan has advertised high level positions — police chief, fire chief, etc. — at a national level. They wanted to ensure they got the best person for the job.

Adriaens appointment is on an interim basis, according to city officials. This will allow council and mayor to decide how to proceed.

Adriaens has been performing many chief-of-staff duties for several years. In addition, he has 29 years of experience with local government, 16 of which were at an executive level. He may very well be the best person for the job, but would a national search reveal somebody more qualified?

The chief of staff position will report to the mayor and City Council, but oversee department heads. Adriaens will be the highest-ranking city official that wasn’t elected.

The change was brought on quickly by the death of Sen. John Schiffer and the appointment of Mayor Dave Kinskey to take his seat. The appointment of Adriaens as chief of staff came approximately one week after John Heath’s appointment to mayor. Heath has said he made the decision to create the chief of staff position because he needed help making the transition to mayor.

Human Resource Director Heather Doke has said the city will maintain its strong mayor form of government. But the duties described in the chief of staff job description are remarkably similar to that of the city administrator position officials tried for in 2007.  Is this just a matter of semantics?

The job description states that the chief of staff will be responsible for recommending policies to the council and mayor. These will be ideas that were never vetted by voters — never discussed in candidate forums, election debates or platforms. The same job description states that the chief of staff will be responsible for the implementation of short- and long-term goals developed by the mayor and council. It seems, then, just as was proposed for a city administrator — the mayor and council will think big picture while the chief of staff focuses on the day-to-day.

Just three months ago, this newspaper agreed with Kinskey that it is time for a city administrator. We also agreed with the then mayor’s idea of putting the idea before voters who recalled a similar decision more than five years ago.

“An articulated argument, a clear plan to make it happen and community buy-in would make it possible,” we said.

So far, none of those things have happened. We hope that before interim becomes permanent, they will.


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