It’s time Eagle had a mayor who takes the job of city CEO seriously instead of trying to be a hands-off ambassador, Stan Ridgeway said Wednesday.
Ridgeway beat incumbent Mayor Jim Reynolds handily in Tuesday’s election. He criticized Reynolds for not involving himself more closely in Eagle’s day-to-day affairs.
“Our mayor is a nice person, but his leadership skills as far as government activities go are really lacking,” Ridgeway said. “You have to direct. And the staff, in my opinion, has to feel like they’re supported in their decisions so they’re comfortable. I don’t hold any of these things against the staff. I just think they’re working in the dark. And I want to work with them.”
Ridgeway also took issue with Reynolds’ handling of a contract for development of a terrain park on county-owned property at the Eagle Sports Complex. That development occurred and the park opened, but Ridgeway believes the city government should have done more to keep the public in the loop.
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Reynolds admitted some regret about the way the deal unfolded.
“The whole thing with the terrain park came at us in a very strange (way) and it was a terrible way to introduce the thing,” Reynolds said. “And we kind of stumbled through it and tried to make the best of it.”
Because he was a sitting member of the Eagle City Council, one of Ridgeway’s first jobs as mayor will be to appoint his replacement on the council. He hasn’t made up his mind but said the pool of candidates who didn’t win in this year’s city elections might be a good place to start.
Ridgeway, 67, and his wife, Margie, moved to Eagle in November 2005. Ridgeway grew up in Alabama. In 1974, he moved to Alaska, where he worked for the state government and served on the Juneau School District board and that city’s version of a council.
Those experiences prepared him to be the kind of mayor Reynolds hasn’t been, he said.
“My whole career and my education is either tied to working with people with disabilities or management,” he said.
Ridgeway said he and his wife like to lead an active life, running races, riding bicycles and motorcycles, and taking trips in their motor home.
“Which is going to be hard now with having a full-time job,” he said.
So how did his wife feel about him taking on the job of mayor?
“She wasn’t really happy about me getting a full-time job after being retired for 12 years,” Ridgeway said. “But she’s a real trooper. She worked as hard on this campaign, if not harder, than I did.”
Reynolds, meanwhile, said he’s at peace with Tuesday’s result.
“The decisions I’ve made and done, I believe, are for the betterment of the city,” he said. “I’ve retired a couple of times before. I’ll just kind of wait and see what the Lord’s got for me. ... It’s just wherever I can be of use to someone and have some fun doing and, you know, try to make things a little better than when I found them.”
Reynolds said he doesn’t expect to run for office again.
Meet Stan Ridgeway
Mayor’s salary: $53,000
Family: wife, Margie; three children, ages 31-33
Home state: Alabama
Time in Eagle: 10 years
Job: Retired after working in Alaska’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Division of Insurance
Prior political experience: Served on Eagle City Council since 2013, Juneau School District, City and Borough of Juneau Assembly
Interests: travel, riding motorcycles, collecting classic cars, building hot rods, long-distance running, Boise State University football (with their tailgating bus)