By Lucas Vader
From the end of January until the end of August, Delta was in search of a new city manager. That search ended with a familiar candidate to those with the city, as Elyse Ackerman-Casselberry applied for the position and ultimately got the job.
The Delta City Council made an effort to take more care in selecting a new manager, as the last number of years have seen a number of short-lived careers in the position. That being said, Casselberry said the job contract itself is not unusual from what she’s seen in other places. It includes her salary of $125,000, which Casselberry said is equivalent to the salary of previous manager David Torgler.
For the last three years, Casselberry has worked for the overall Delta County. Most notably, she led the transition of former Delta County Economic Development (DCED) into the refreshed One Delta County, An Economic Alliance. She also largely took part in the new land use codes for the county.
“I’ve been in public administration for most of my career, so it was something I’ve done before,” Casselberry said.
Casselberry said Delta is truly her home. She’s lived in Delta County since 2010. The city manager position matches her qualifications. She’s been in local government since 2001 and has been a manager since 2007. That includes a seven-year stint as a regional manager for the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
“My time with DOLA was really providing technical assistance on all aspects of local government, including management, financial, planning, strategic planning, board training and development,” Casselberry said. “Really everything city managers do.”
When the position first came up early this year, Casselberry wasn’t yet planning to apply, but the COVID-19 pandemic, in delaying everything, gave her more time to think it over.
“I didn’t initially plan on putting in for it at all,” Casselberry said. “When they advertised, I didn’t put in for it. I thought about it but I had things that I needed to finish up.”
However, due to the delay in filling the position due to an abundance of council and staff focus on the pandemic, Casselberry was ultimately able to finish up her largest projects before the position was filled. Seeing the opportunity, she went for it.
“I kind of threw mine in and the last minute,” Casselberry said.
Casselberry didn’t come in without a plan, though. Being a part of the county’s drive while working with the city regularly, she was immediately fully aware of the goals and aspirations the city holds.
“I think the biggest issue is really changing the way that people perceive Delta,” Casselberry said. “It’s an amazing community, it has phenomenal assets, amazing people, amazing businesses and when you hear people talking about Delta, it’s not always positive.”
Casselberry addressed the homeless population as an issue, though she emphasized that it’s not unique to Delta. “Everybody’s dealing with a homeless issue, so that’s definitely a part, we see that as a community and it’s something we need to work on and address,” she said.
Another issue that Casselberry wants to combat is the community-known Main Street issues.
“We’ve got a Main Street that is struggling,” Casselberry said. “You look at the number of vacant storefronts on Main Street and it’s pretty depressing, frankly. I think our business community really needs a shot in the arm.”
That being said, Casselberry also wants to focus on positives in the area in order to create a better attitude overall for Delta.
“But when we talk about what’s not right on Main Street, that takes away from what is right because we also have a lot of great things happening,” Casselberry said. While many of Delta’s problems are not unique to Delta, Casselberry assured that she doesn’t want to dismiss them, as she realizes that they are still problems. This includes crime and drugs in the area as well.
Casselberry advocates for the development and overall stability of the City of Delta, and with the current city council, she’s optimistic about the way things are going.
“I’m so excited about the council and definitely the communication,” Casselberry said. “We’ve done a strategic plan already and so I have a good sense of what their priorities are so that we can start making progress on their priorities. So far, things are off to a great start.”