The Prescott Valley Town Council has selected four finalists for the position vacated by the retirement of longtime Town Manager Larry Tarkowski in May.
The Town hired the executive search firm of Peckham and McKenney, Inc. to conduct a national hunt for the person who will lead Prescott Valley into the future. Fifty-nine people applied for the position, with candidates from Arizona and throughout the nation. Peckham and McKenney’s Drew Gorgey narrowed the field to 12 candidates, and during a special executive session on Wednesday, June 16, Town Council chose the four finalists.
The Town will host a public meet and greet reception with the finalists from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, June 28 in the Prescott Valley Public Library Crystal Room. Light refreshments will be served. After final Council interviews, the Town expects to announce its new Manager at the end of June or early July.
The finalists are as follows:
Gilbert Davidson served as City Manager of Willcox, Arizona from 2002 – 2005 before becoming Deputy Town Manager and then Town Manager of Marana, Arizona, a town similar in population and growth to Prescott Valley. From 2017-2019 he was Chief Operating Officer of the State of Arizona Governor’s Office, and currently is a Senior Consultant/Owner of Davidson Strategic LLC/University of Arizona.
Davidson said he considers among his most notable professional accomplishments building and supporting high-performing teams at the state and local government level, securing Marana’s wastewater to add to its water portfolio, and laying the foundation for Marana’s future downtown/main street.
As a manager, Davidson said he practices servant leadership and is passionate about exceptional government that strives to achieve the vision of the community. He said he values integrity, ethical decision making, and a government that is responsive and attentive to the needs of the community it serves.
Davidson said he has been familiar with Prescott Valley for many years, as his grandparents lived in the area in the 1970s. “I have a great appreciation for what has taken place in the community, and the opportunities for the future, to continue to deliver excellent services to the citizens. I spent the bulk of my career in Marana, and I’d like to get back to local government,” he said.
Glen Martel has a history in civil engineering, project management, land and business development, public works and environmental engineering. He also is presently a Brigadier General with the Nevada Air National Guard. Currently, he is the Assistant City Manager of Missouri City, Texas, a community of about 80,000 people.
Martel said he considers among his most notable achievements the development of the Nevada Air National Guard 2035 Strategic Plan, uniting efforts across the state. Additionally, he has helped Missouri City complete its updated strategic plan by July 2021. He also has coordinated a citizen’s bond committee in conjunction with the Missouri City Council to advise on the monetary level of its next bond issue and identify a list of potential projects that might be supported by voters at election time. “I believe these current experiences will be of particular value to Prescott Valley as it looks to update its General Plan and to identify funding options for needed improvements,” Martel said.
Martel said his early experiences taught him to respect each position for the contribution it brings to the process. His greatest strengths as a leader, he said, are accountability supported by innovation, introspection, and support for personal growth.
Martel added that he was attracted to the community’s high desert location and its professional opportunities. “The growth potential in Prescott Valley, and some of the opportunities in economic development and helping the Town continue to mature are professionally challenging as well,” he said.
From 2013 to 2019, Prescott Valley resident Jack Smith served on the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors. He then served as Arizona State Director of the Rural Development Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2019-2021. Currently he is an Executive Consultant with the Arizona Department of Administration, which supports multiple agencies within the state government, developing new processes, policies and implementing programs as directed by the State Legislature and the Governor’s Office.
Among Smith’s most notable achievements, he said, are increasing the business program deliverables for USDA rural development from $31 million to more than $81 million within a year, building partnerships between Yavapai County and Prescott Valley to improve infrastructure, and leading efforts to enact a distracted driving ordinance that became state law.
Smith said his philosophy of management is to “treat others with respect and allow them to seek broader solutions on issues, which will drive success throughout the team,” he said.
The number one reason for wanting to serve as Prescott Valley’s Town Manager, Smith said, is that the community is his home. “I can say assuredly that it is all about family, about keeping our community ‘our community,’” he said. “I was elected twice by the people of Prescott Valley to serve as their County Supervisor and made every effort to put the people first, listen to concerns and be an active part of the solution. My life has been about service, and I hope my boys will see the love I have for my Town and how it has supported us as a family.”
Abigail Yacoben has held Finance Director positions at a number of different communities in Illinois, Maine, and Avondale, Arizona since 2003. She is currently Deputy Finance Director for the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, 640,000 population, serving since 2017.
She said she considers among her most notable achievements helping to revitalize a purchasing and contracts department in the City of Las Vegas that had been without a manager for nearly a year. She was able to clarify expectations, which improved consistency and timeliness, and establish trust with other departments. “I’m very proud of the purchasing and contracts team’s achievements and cohesiveness,” she said.
Additionally, she worked to bring on a new financial reporting software in Las Vegas that allowed the city to improve its finance reporting, accuracy and transparency. In Freeport, Maine, she was able to assist two polarized groups of citizens who were at odds on whether to keep one school district or divide it into two. Yacoben was assigned to help develop a financial model and assist the two factions to work together with a successful conclusion.
Yacoben said she feels great leaders find the passions and skills in their individual team members, connect them to the organization’s needs, and get out of the way so the team can flourish. “My passion for leadership is a major reason I am applying to move from department to organizational leadership,” she said.
Prescott Valley’s stable community, steady growth and planning are attractive to Yacoben, she said, adding that she and her husband love Arizona, having lived here before. “Prescott Valley is a friendly community with a small town, grass roots feel, but with sophistication. I would be excited to come to this community, I feel it would be a great fit,” she said.