Tuesday was Linda Snow’s last day as city manager of St. Paul. Snow announced two months ago that she would be ending her 28-year career in Alaska to move closer to family in the Lower 48. She’s worked as a city manager throughout the state and has been in St. Paul for almost eight years. She plans to leave Alaska in early September.
“I have to say, of all the jobs that I’ve had as city manager in the state of Alaska, this has been the most challenging job. It has also been the most rewarding job,” says Snow.
Snow says that the newness of St. Paul’s government presented her with unique challenges. The city was incorporated in 1971 and didn’t gain full independence until 1984, when the federal government finally turned over control of the island’s fur seal industry. In 2006, when Snow arrived, the federal government was still working to clean up hazardous materials and repair buildings that they were legally required to bring up to code before leaving the island.
“It had just taken them so long to remove their presence from this island that the people here were beginning to, you know, doubt that they ever would,” she says.
But since then, things have changed. During Snow’s time as city manager, she helped settle a legal battle between the federal government and the city over land. She’s overseen the creation of a small boat harbor and has negotiated with the island’s native corporation, TDX, to provide wind power for the city. The corporation’s three wind turbines will be connected to the city’s power grid in the fall. Snow says she feels good about stepping down, knowing so many big projects are nearing completion.
“The timing was just right,” she says. “You know, I felt like I had done what I came to do.”
There will still be plenty of work on hand for whoever steps in as her successor, including overseeing the replacement of the city’s sewage outfall system and construction of new burn units at the landfill.
City clerk Phyllis Swetzof says the city began the search for a new manager in July. Three finalists, all of whom have Alaskan roots, will be flown in for interviews this month.
Swetzof will be filling in until the city finds a replacement.