CLRC Notes: Your New City Manager

CLRC Notes




January 4, 2012

by John Kiljan


Dear CLRC members and friends,


It’s hard to overstate the importance of the City Manager in a city like ours.  Arvada has what is often referred to as a “weak mayor” form of government.  Arvada’s charter does not allow our Mayor, nor any of our Council members, to direct the day-to-day activities of the City’s Staff.  A good analogy to how our City Council functions would be a board of directors for a large corporation.  The company’s board (in our case, the City Council) recruits, hires and fires the company’s CEO (for Arvada, the City Manager is the CEO) and regularly reviews his or her performance.  But how the company is run is pretty much up to the CEO himself.


This is a form of government that is most common among smaller cities such as Arvada.  In contrast, larger cities such as Denver have a “strong mayor” form of government where the mayor essentially IS the city manager.


The character and background of your City Manager is pretty important to our CLRC neighborhood and to everyone else living in Arvada.  Think Steve Jobs if you are still following the corporate analogy.


I found this recently released first-person biographical write up by Arvada’s City Manager, Mark Deven, to be pretty informative.  The open invitation to directly contact the City Manager with your concerns and ideas is pretty impressive for a position where many other managers would prefer to work quietly in the background.


Here is the full text of the City’s Headlines release:


* * *

Meet Arvada’s City Manager: Mark Deven


[On] October 1, 2011, I became City Manager of Arvada, Colorado. It has been my privilege since that time to be part of several community meetings, events and other activities that have helped me to get to know members of this fantastic community. I thought it would be appropriate to offer the community an opportunity to get to know me.


My Background


The foundation for my life was formed by my outstanding parents who clearly communicated their high expectations for me in all areas in which I chose to participate. This included academics, athletics, part time work and volunteer service. With that excellent foundation I entered Whittier College in Whittier, California following high school and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree as a Political Science major. Following my undergraduate studies I completed my Masters in Public Administration degree at California State University Long Beach. The MPA program at Long Beach was taught by many practicing city managers who offered tremendous insight for graduate students interested in this career path.


My Pride and Joy


My best friend, confidant and wonderful wife is Shelly. We have been blessed with five children; Kyle, Erin, Corey, Chelsea and Tyler. Four of my children are pursuing their careers, while Tyler is a junior in high school. When we made the decision to come to Arvada, we agreed that we should allow Tyler to finish high school in Woodland, California. As a result, my life partner will not be joining me here until mid-2013. That is definitely a challenge because my family is number one. Nonetheless, we both believe that Arvada is worth the sacrifice and we will find the opportunities for me to return to Woodland and for Shelly and Tyler to come to their future new home here in Arvada. In the meantime, I am living in the heart of Arvada in Olde Town. When I’m not working, I enjoy running on our seemingly endless miles of trails, and learning all I can about the city and community of Arvada.


My Professional Background


I began my public service career following graduation from high school as a recreation leader at a summer playground and worked for various parks and recreation agencies as a part time leader through college before being appointed to my first full time professional position for the City of Lakewood, California in 1980. Advancement through the parks and recreation career path led to the City of Concord, California where I was appointed Director in 1996. After 24 years in the parks and recreation profession, I was appointed Assistant City Manager for Concord in 2004.


In August 2007 I became Woodland’s City Manager. Woodland is a full service city about 17 miles northwest of Sacramento. At the time of my appointment Woodland was poised for tremendous growth based on the demand for new residential development that had swept through California and the Sacramento region. The onset of the recessionary economy hit Woodland hard and I was forced to immediately reduce the organization in order to maintain fiscal stability. Our hard work in Woodland was difficult but paid off. As I left Woodland to come to Arvada, the economic situation was becoming stable and the long-range financial plan showed modest improvement.


Making My Way to Arvada


In June, I became aware of the opening for the city manager position in Arvada. Arvada was a city I already admired because of the innovative practices that were implemented here through the leadership of the City Council, former City Manager Craig Kocian and all of the employees.


Professional organizations recognized Arvada for advancing economic development, information technology and organizational development. The Arvada Police Department is one of very few nationally recognized agencies by the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation (CALEA).


When I saw the announcement of the opening, I became very excited at the idea of submitting an application. Being appointed city manager of Arvada has been a life changing experience.


Arvada citizens are engaged in all aspects of civic life, from economic development to festivals; from parks to neighborhood revitalization. Our City Council is focused on improving the lives of our residents, property owners and businesses yet visionary through their collective attention to projects such as the Jefferson Parkway. Our employees care deeply about what they do to serve our citizens and everyone I have met so far is fiercely proud that they work for the City of Arvada.


Moving Forward


With the excellent foundation laid through the previous accomplishments, my focus is to honor Arvada’s vision statement of “Continuing to Build a Great Community.” We will accomplish this by applying certain principles that include outcome management, performance management, long-range financial planning and developing the most effective, efficient and responsive local government organization possible. We will continue to work with the numerous citizens, commissions, boards, committees and associations. I am amazed at how much Arvada residents give to their community and their willingness to work with their elected officials and city staff. We will move forward with capital projects that improve and preserve our streets, utilities, parks and neighborhoods. Most important of all, we will obtain the results desired by the Arvada community and be excellent stewards of the public’s resources. It is a privilege to work for the City of Arvada and to serve this community as your city manager. I encourage you to contact me with your comments and suggestions by email at or phone at 720-898-7510.


* * *


 John Kiljan, CLRC Notes: 303-423-9875 or

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