Retired Marine colonel named Carson City manager
Retired Marine Col. Nick Marano will become Carson City’s next city manager, barring any unanticipated negotiating snag.
Marano, a management consultant, was named city manger-designate by unanimous action of the five-member Board of Supervisors on Friday.
The selection followed hourlong public interviews with each of the five remaining candidates, after which Mayor Robert Crowell said the city wouldn’t “go wrong with any of them.” In the end, the retired colonel and current consultant bested two local candidates and two others who had municipal administrative experience in Nevada even though he was the outsider. Marano addressed that in closing remarks of his interview.
“I’m a blank slate,” said the man who now resides in Southern California, where he used to run Camp Pendleton. That comment, he explained, meant he isn’t tied to any long-standing Carson City issues.
“I’ve made a career out of empowering subordinates,” he said. “Team building is critically important.”
Despite the comment about being an outsider, he spoke knowledgably throughout the interview process about many facets of the community.
The board named Jim Nichols, formerly the assistant city manager in Midland, Texas, and before that deputy city manager in Las Vegas, as the backup should negotiations with Marano break down. That isn’t expected. The board earlier set a salary range of $140,000 to $180,000 a year, but benefit and contract language must be finalized.
The next-to-last item in a 15-page draft contract says that unless an exception is made by the board, the city manager must live in the city. Marano said he “absolutely” intends to comply with that requirement. Former City Manager Larry Werner, who retired Dec. 19, lived in and remained in Douglas County when he was elevated to city manager in 2008. Marena Works, Werner’s deputy city manager, has served as the interim executive since Dec. 20.
There were 70 applicants for the post earlier this year, a pool initially cut to seven by Ralph Andersen & Associates, the headhunting firm for the city. Two of those dropped out before any interviews began.
Marano said after being chosen that he has one client in his consulting business he must give 30 days notice, but voiced the possibility that client may not stop him from becoming city manager sooner. He also said, when asked about the biggest pitfall or unknown he may face, that a top task will be to learn desires of the community’s residents.
“I want to know what the community thinks the priorities are,” he said.
Marano was chosen over not only Nichols, but Jeff Fontaine and Stacey Giomi of Carson City and Tim Hacker, who formerly was the city manager of North Las Vegas and Mesquite in Southern Nevada. Fontaine is the executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties; Giomi is the city’s fire chief.
The city manager-designate is a Pennsylvania native and 1984 graduate of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance at that Jesuit university. Marano also did postgraduate work at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense College in Rome in 2007.
As a Marine Corps officer, Marano’s career included overseas assignments in and outside zones of conflict, but his most recent military service role was as commanding officer of Camp Pendleton from 2009-12. His background information indicated that amounted to a mayor/city manager combination role at the Marine Corps’ largest base.
He said that there he led a diverse work force of 6,000 federal employees, Marines and contractors serving more than 60,000 active-duty personnel and their families.
From 2007-09, he was chief operating officer at Quantico in Virginia for a worldwide training and education organization “comprised of 25,000 active duty Marines during a period of declining budgets.”
His 2005-07 assignment had him leading a 1,500-Marine infantry battalion and task force, a 3,000-man Iraqi Army Brigade and more than 1,000 Iraqi police in combat operations on the Syrian border in western Iraq.
His post-military service work as a management consultant includes clients in both business and labor. He is a consultant for a mechanical construction firm and a major trade union, according to his background document.
During his interview, Marano was asked how he builds trust.
“I’m very active,” he said, which leads him to spend a minimum of time in his office, though whatever amount is necessary. He prefers to troll for information from workers or others. He said that is his method to “get ground truth” from department heads, other staffers and community residents. He also said he is “an avid reader” who keeps current in communication flow on various fronts.
For the board, he said, his style is structured to “always present solutions, not problems” and stress transparency.
“It’s the most important thing we do,” he said. He said he will be a forceful advocate for what he deems the proper course, but in the end it is the board that decides policy and sets direction.
“When you make a decision,” he said, “it’s my decision” and will be carried out as a team decision.
Regarding economic development, he said, what is going on now is “spot on,” but he hopes to help bring in diverse commerce by educating business and industry on the advantages of relocating to Carson City.