There is one candidate left in the hunt for the Wrangell borough manager position. Current Manager Jeff Jabusch announced his retirement in September and will leave the position in March.
The hiring committee made up of Wrangell Borough Assembly members and borough administration started the process last fall, sifting through 21 applicants. Ann Capela is the remaining candidate. Former prospect, Bradley Hanson, was in the running until late January, but accepted another position.
The assembly interviewed the lone applicant Tuesday. Capela explained it was a good chance to understand the economic development, infrastructure and funding issues the borough is facing.
“The hospital is one of the projects and also the old mill property there,” she said of development projects the assembly is interested in. “So certainly they’re looking at how do you keep the community in the same manner in a sense but move forward, and there’s a lot of projects that can be done.”
The borough is looking at several large projects such as developing the former Wrangell Institute site, purchasing the old mill site and converting its water treatment plant to a new system in order to keep up with demand.
Capela served as Bethel’s city manager until last year. Alaska Dispatch News reported she left before her contract was set to end in November 2017. Capela was credited with stringing together $8 million in funding to rebuild Bethel’s sewer system.
She notes with state funds dwindling, Wrangell will have to find diverse revenue sources and develop public and private partnerships to be successful.
“I think the private sector can step in and lead the economic development. We as government can make the conditions possible for economic development. We want to be partners,” said Capela.
But, Capela added that a hard look at the borough’s services is necessary.
“The community is not different than any other community in the united states,” she said, referring to sparse revenue sources for small communities. “What are the services we’re going to provide? What are the services we must provide? What are the services we like to provide? What are the services we could live without?
Capela’s resume details several local and county government positions dating back to 1995, and has held seven leadership positions at township, county and city levels.
The assembly will discuss the interview in executive session during Wednesday’s meeting. It’s uncertain if a decision or announcement will be made after the session.
Capela added she would like to keep her options open and wants to think about logistical issues concerning her family.
Current manager Jabusch, a life-long Wrangellite, has worked for the city since 1979 and plans to stay in Wrangell.