At a brief special meeting of the Telluride City Council on Tuesday, Greg Sund, of Trinidad, Colorado, was selected from a field of four candidates to fill, on an interim basis, the position vacated by former City Manager Ross Herzog l ‘last year. Director of Public Works, Paul Ruud, and Director of Finance, Kailee Ranta, have acted as co-managers of the city since Herzog’s departure at the end of the year. The position is officially known as the interim city official, with a projected term of “three to four months,” according to Mayor Delanie Young. The board voted unanimously to award the position to Sound.
Sund comes to the director’s office with 27 years of professional local government management under his belt. Most recently he served as Trinidad City Manager from 2017-19 and last year was the Intermediate City Administrator of Walsenburg. He also served as city or county administrator for the first city of Spearfish, South Dakota, Dickinson, North Dakota, and Ellis County, Kansas. In Hays, Kansas, he assumed the role of Director of Public Works.
The self-confessed “gym rat” and avid cyclist was bitten by the public administration bug – he holds his master in the field – while living in Deadwood in the early 1980s.
“As I learned more about city government, I decided to run for office as a city council member. I was elected to this position in 1983,” Sund told the Daily Planet. “However in the same year, voters decided to move from a Mayor and Council form of government to a City Commission form. This meant that to continue to be involved, I had to run for City Commissioner a year later. I was elected to that position and served four years as the city’s finance commissioner.
A student at the time, he guided the city in converting from paper accounting to the use of accounting software. He began his public administration dissertation work while working for Quick City, South Dakota, first as a mayor’s office volunteer and then as a public works intern. His first full-time job after graduation was as a city finance officer in Platte, South Dakota. He’s been in public administration ever since, saving for a steint of a year as regional director of the South Dakota Small Business Development Center.
His work in Colorado includes a pair of notable accomplishments. Sund worked with the Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) on the purchase of a 19,200-acre ranch south of Trinidad that Governor Jared Polis named the 42nd park in State in 2019. He also helped plan and implement the first rural space to create project in Colorado that provides 41 live/work units for low-income artists.
Sund reflected on what Trinidad and Telluride have in common.
“Both cities have visitor attractions, but the draw for Telluride is obviously much larger with the possible exception of marijuana sales,” he said. “Because Trinidad is the first community in Colorado when you enter the state from Texas or from I-25 in New Mexico, marijuana sales are doing very well.”
He actually finds that Deadwood may have more in common with Telluride.
“Deadwood is a town that focuses on the visitor industry due to its history and while I lived there it also had a thriving ski industry with two ski resorts just outside of Lead in the South Dakota,” Sund said. “One of Deadwood’s challenges was to convince skiers to take multi-day tours by making Deadwood’s activities more attractive, especially in the evenings. The draw of Deadwood these days is the game, which has changed the town so much.
Municipal or government management work can make a peripatetic living, but it was this one and his wife, Elizabeth enjoyed it.
“While moving is a challenge, I have come to accept that changed positions in local government management usually require relocation, especially in areas outside of large population,” Sund said. “In my career, I’ve lived in South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, and now Colorado. (We’ve) really enjoyed exploring the area and the states we’ve lived in. Colorado doesn’t do exception.
The lure of living in a mountain valley is reminiscent of its Deadwood days. The recreational opportunities, he said, are obvious, especially for his pursuit as a dedicated cyclist.
“I’ve loved riding my bike all my life,” the self-proclaimed “gym rat” said. “I stopped riding on paved roads about 10 years ago and bought a cross-over bike. Since then I’ve been spending more time on back roads and gravel roads. bought a mountain bike a few years ago and enjoyed real off-road experiences.
It also unfolds with art, with an emphasis on drawing, watercolours, calligraphy and gold and silver-Smithing.
When the city council questioned Summit, he told council members and young people that he applied for the position because it was temporary, but told the daily planet that he would be open to settling in for a longer pass.
“I am not opposed to continuing to serve in this area full time and can consider the full time position,” he said.
Its main objective is to serve the community.
“I think the greatest attraction of this profession is the opportunity to make a difference in every community we serve.”