New administrator takes county helm Monday

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County: Harry Burgess gears up to get to work

By Arin McKenna

Harry Burgess has been busy the last month: wrapping up his duties as City Administrator for Carlsbad, preparing for his move to Los Alamos and prepping for his new position as Los Alamos County Administrator.

In addition to all that, Burgess had to undergo emergency gall bladder surgery shortly after being hired Oct. 4, and following his doctor’s orders to avoid lifting has hindered packing.

Burgess has been doing his best to be in a position to hit the ground running on Monday. He has spent considerable time e-mailing and consulting with staff by phone, including teleconferencing in on staff meetings.

“People are looking for me to get out the gate, and I plan to be very active,” Burgess said. “But I don’t want to be too presumptive. I want to give every issue its due deliberation and I have to get my bearings,” Burgess said.

One of Burgess’ first objectives is becoming familiar with projects already underway. “We’ve certainly had discussions about issues, but it’s easier to grasp them when you see the people and places involved. I need to be able to make decisions based on all the information.”

High on just about everyone’s list is having permanent heads of the nine departments with acting directors. “It’s important to get a team built. It’s going to take everybody’s efforts to move those projects forward,” Burgess said.

In order to make those personnel decisions, Burgess plans to spend a lot of time with his staff. “It’s incumbent on me to get to know the folks. I intend to go to all the facilities and introduce myself and get the lay of the land,” Burgess said. “I just hope there’s not a test on names in the first week or so.”

Burgess wants to start meeting county residents as well.

Burgess brings some key tools and experience to help him get started. He has been the City Administrator for Carlsbad since 2005. He also served as County Manager in Grant County for four years and as Administrative Services Director for Eddy County from 1997-2001.

He holds a Ph.D. in Economic Development from New Mexico State University, and he has a proven track record of successful economic development in Carlsbad. Burgess has brought both affordable housing and new business to that city, and gross receipts tax revenues are up despite the nationwide economic downturn.

Burgess’ experience working with the Department of Energy and the federal government should also be an asset in his work here.

Burgess’ wife, Jackie, daughter Jenna and son Garron helped him move up on Friday, and they closed on their new home. Although Jackie and the children will remain in Carlsbad until the end of the semester, their house down there is also under contract. “It really helps having everything in place. I’m ready to get settled and focus,” Burgess said.

“It’s exciting to be starting,” Burgess said. “It’s a little daunting, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.”