Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Santa Fe city manager to step down in January, mayor names replacement | Local News

Santa Fe City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill plans to step down on January 12th after more than two years in office.

In her place, if the city council approves the appointment of Mayor Alan Webber, she will be replaced by John Blair, who most recently served as the deputy superintendent of the state’s regulatory and licensing department and helped develop the framework for the adult cannabis market in New Mexico was involved.

The council is expected to vote on Blair on the last day of LaPan Hill.

“I’m very excited,” Blair said in an interview on Tuesday. “I’ve had some very positive conversations with the mayor and Jarel, and as someone who grew up here, this is a dream job to help the mayor move the city forward.”

LaPan Hill, who served as the interim city manager before being appointed to the permanent position in January 2020, just months before the arrival of COVID-19, said she was proud of the work she and the city did to keep people safe during the pandemic.

“I’m so proud of the work we’ve done including creating an incredibly strong team,” said LaPan Hill. “This is a natural transition. It’s been a long four years; it’s been a longer two and a half years.”

She said the city “couldn’t have asked for someone more qualified” than Blair.

Before deciding what to do next, she said, “I’m going to hang out with my kids and enjoy life a little.”

LaPan Hill, who served four years in the Obama administration as chief of staff to the deputy secretary of the US Department of Health, came to town in 2018 as Webber’s chief of staff.

City spokesman Dave Herndon said she was the longest-serving city manager in the city and was responsible for implementing a reorganization plan and managing the city’s COVID-19 response over the past year.

Webber said he was “extremely grateful” to LaPan Hill for her tenure.

“Her experience in the Obama administration prepared her very well for what none of us would have expected when the pandemic broke out,” he said. “She was the right person at the right time.”

Blair, who unexpectedly resigned from the Regulatory and Licensing division earlier this month, previously served as Deputy Secretary of State and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver between 2016-19. He also has ties to the Obama administration; In 2014-16 he was appointed director of interstate and foreign affairs for the US Department of the Interior.

He worked as chief of staff for US MP Dan Kildee, D-Mich., And as legislative director and communications director for then US MP Martin Heinrich, DN.M.

“He’s someone who is very respected and very well regarded,” said Webber. “He’s someone we’ve talked about over the years if there was a time we could recruit him to work for the city.”

In an interview about his recent resignation from Regulation and Licensing, Blair said he had decided to take “another great opportunity” that he felt “passionate” about, but did not reveal details about the job.

Blair said Tuesday he was ready for a change after juggling multiple hats within the regulatory and licensing department.

He is particularly interested in how Santa Fe can be modernized while sticking to the things people love about City Different, he said, adding that he is also focused on improving urban infrastructure, tackling homelessness and the promotion of green policy will focus if his appointment is approved.

Blair would be the fourth city manager since Webber took office in 2018. Webber said the changes were due to the complexity of the job.

Brian Snyder, who has held the position since 2013, resigned at Webber’s request in April 2018 because of concerns about hefty salary increases he approved without the council’s approval on the day Webber’s inauguration.

The raises were stopped and Snyder returned to a supervisory position in the city water department.

Erik Litzenberg, the then fire chief of the city, should replace Snyder as city director. In 2019 he resigned.

“It’s a very demanding job,” said Webber. “The reality of being a city manager in any ward in America is that the tenure is relatively short. You work incredibly hard and pass the baton on to the next person.”

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