The Independence City Commissioners have announced the selection of Craig Whitehead, of American Fork, Utah, as the new Independence city manager. He will assume the position June 8.
Mayor Fred Meier and fellow Commissioners Leonhard Caflisch and Gary Hogsett unanimously approved the appointment, noting Whitehead’s extensive experience in long-range planning and budgeting, as well as demonstrated excellent communication skills.
“We were highly impressed with Craig’s track record in managing organizations of varying sizes around the country, particularly his focus on developing a culture of service within his team and thoughtfully prioritizing and balancing community needs with available resources.,” Meier said. “And while he has several years of experience, he also has fresh ideas and innovative approaches to offer. We believe he has the talent and leadership ability that are essential for moving our community forward.”
Whitehead was among three city manager finalists who visited Independence for interviews in late April. After researching the community in advance, Whitehead said, Independence did not disappoint upon visiting in person, and he is looking forward to making it home.
“Even before I came for my visit, I had looked at a lot of information about Independence,” he said. “One of the things that piqued my interest in applying for the job was then Mayor Gary Hogsett’s welcome on the city’s webpage, which spoke about the spirit of the community and why he and his wife decided to move there - a real spirit of community pride and volunteerism. I was also impressed with how all the commissioners spoke about the City.
“I am excited to join the City of Independence team,” Whitehead said. “All the staff I have met so far have been great, and I look forward to working with them for the betterment of the community.”
Whitehead said his early priorities include establishing the 2017-2018 city budget and capital program and working with the citizens’ infrastructure steering committee to help outline the future for city hall and other capital projects.
“To sum up my leadership style in one word, it would be ‘participative,’” he said. I believe in team decision-making and gaining consensus. I believe in communicating, leading by example, developing and empowering employees, celebrating our successes, having fun, offering recognition and appreciation.”
Whitehead most recently served as the city administrator in American Fork, with a population of 28,000, approximately 150 employees and an annual municipal operating budget of $46 million. Some significant accomplishments in that city, he noted, were improved operating efficiencies in streets, utilities and sanitation to save hundreds of thousands of dollars; implementation of a successful business recruitment and retention initiative; establishing an employee-driven work culture aimed at continuous service improvement; and technology investments that significantly improved productivity and enhanced communications with citizens.
His previous experience includes management stints in communities of varying sizes and regions across the country, including Galesburg, Illinois, population 33,000, interim city manager; Peoria, Illinois (116,000), assistant city manager; Sioux City, Iowa (85,000), assistant city manager and city manager; Newport, Vermont (4,500), city manager; and Canandaigua, New York (12,000), assistant city manager.
He received his education at Brigham Young University in Utah, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s of Public Administration degree.
Whitehead will relocate to Independence with his wife, Sandy, and daughter, Rachel, and he said they all look forward to engaging in the community.
Meier added, “Personally, I’m very excited to welcome Craig and his family to Independence and get them settled. It was evident during his visit that we were participating in a two-way interview. Craig had clearly done his homework on us and was evaluating our community just as intently as we were evaluating him.
“I’m happy to report that we made a good impression, and I am very hopeful that all of our citizens will welcome him with open hearts and open minds as we begin a new chapter in Independence.”