Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sun Valley city administrator resigns

Virginia Egger says she wants more time with family

Express Staff Writer

Express file photo Sun Valley City Administrator Virginia Egger announced late last week that she will step down from her post, effective June 22. ?Circumstances within my family have changed, and I need and want to provide greater attention to my family as soon as possible,? she said.

After nearly three years as city administrator for Sun Valley, Virginia Egger is set to step down at the end of this week, citing a need for more time with her family.

Egger's resignation, effective June 22, is the culmination of more than a decade's worth of civil service. Prior to her time in Sun Valley, she worked in a similar capacity for eight years in the resort town of Telluride, Colo.

"My daughter has just been named to the 2007 U.S. Ski Team and I really feel I should be there to help her out as much as I can," Egger said.

Her daughter, Sophia Schwartz, 16, attends a boarding school in New Hampshire and is a member of the prestigious Waterville Valley Black & Blue Trail Smashers Ski Educational Foundation. She also maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and is in the process of looking at colleges. Schwartz won the 2006 USSA Freestyle Junior Olympics in women's halfpipe. She is slated to compete for the U.S. Ski Team in both halfpipe and freestyle moguls.

"It is with great sadness that I am noticing you of my resignation," Egger stated in a letter addressed to Mayor Jon Thorson and the Sun Valley City Council. "My greatest thanks to Mayor Thorson, who cajoled me into joining the city, and who has been the finest visionary, mentor and boss ... and, to the fine councilpersons under whom I have served, it has been an honor to work for you."

Thorson said in an interview that Egger approached him about three weeks ago with concerns over whether she can continue to meet the obligations of a city administrator.


"She said that her daughter had been named to the U.S. Ski Team and she wanted to be able to travel with her during the season—from November through April," Thorson said.

"I wanted to tell her that her daughter doesn't need her," he joked. "But my son was a national decathlon champion and I went to every meet he was in. There was no way I could tell her not to do something that I had done, and something that I have forever been grateful for having participated in."

Thorson picked Egger to fill the position of city administrator shortly after he was elected mayor in November 2003.

"She was on the short-list for city administrator in the months before I was elected mayor," he said. "The man who was hired, while he had the skills and resumé for the job, he was not proactive nor was he interested in moving forward. I didn't think he was a good fit for a growing resort community."

In the weeks prior to the announcement of her resignation, Egger said money was never a factor in her decision to serve Sun Valley. Instead, it was a sense that the city was poised for change and her work could be instrumental in steering a positive course.

During her tenure, Egger did just that, playing a key role in reshaping the city's comprehensive plan, in the adoption of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, in writing two affordable housing ordinances and in making Ketchum Area Rapid Transit a countywide endeavor.

"One of the first significance works we took on was the 2004 Comprehensive Plan," Thorson said. "At first, I was concerned we were getting a boiler-plate comprehensive plan. But Virginia was key and worked with the 13-member citizens committee for 16 months to come up with the plan. Moreover, she has continued to be a driving force in the implementation of the comp plan.

"We have worked hard to instill ordinances that ensure clean water and clean air—she was instrumental in the drafting and passage of the solid-waste ordinance, on mass and scale for buildings, on making KART a countywide organization. She understood that everything we do to ensure the wellbeing of residents in Sun Valley has to be connected to our neighboring communities."

The search for a replacement has already begun, and Thorson said the city is looking at a candidate previously considered by Blaine County for county administrator.

As Sun Valley sits on the brink of a substantial changing of the guard, with Egger's departure compounded by the resignations of City Councilwoman Ann Agnew and Assistant Community Development Director Marisa Nelson, Thorson recalls a quote Egger frequently used: "We need 'relentless forward motion.' We still have a lot of stuff to do to implement our comprehensive plan, to provide workforce housing and transportation and to ensure we are stewards of the environment."

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