Summit County Government

Posted on: January 28, 2016

County Manager Gary Martinez Announces Retirement

Photo of Gary Martinez standing in front of the County Manager's Office.

Summit County’s top executive will leave his position in June

Thomas Davidson, Chair, Board of County Commissioners
Gary Martinez, County Manager

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County Manager Gary Martinez announced today that he plans to retire this year, concluding a long career of public service. Martinez, 68, has served at the helm of the county government’s staff since October 2007.

“I feel exceptionally lucky to have had the opportunity to serve the citizens of Summit County in a number of capacities for nearly four decades,” Martinez said. “It’s a privilege to go to work each day for a community that has such a sense of enthusiasm about looking out for one another, tackling social challenges, protecting the natural beauty we’re blessed with and celebrating the special way of life we have here.”

Martinez will continue in his current position through June 2016. After he steps down, he will serve in a transitional role through the end of the calendar year, working on key projects identified by the Board of County Commissioners.

“We’re squeezing every last drop we can out of him,” BOCC Chairman Thomas Davidson said. “When you have a manager who is as capable, knowledgeable and enjoyable to work with as Gary Martinez, it’s hard to let him go. But we wish him all the very best as he looks forward to this next phase of his life. He has certainly earned it many times over.”

Martinez was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in the Buckeye State. He completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Miami University of Ohio. He left for Colorado in 1976, arriving first in Steamboat Springs, then settling in Summit County two years later.

In 1978, Martinez took a job at Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, an association of county and municipal governments that currently works on behalf of 26 member jurisdictions, including Summit County. Martinez took over as NWCCOG executive director in 1982, helping to lead the legal effort to secure Western Slope water rights in the face of increasing trans-mountain diversions by Front Range water interests.

In 1985, the Breckenridge Town Council hired Martinez to serve as Breckenridge town manager, a position he held till 2000. Under Martinez’s leadership, the Town of Breckenridge constructed the Breckenridge Recreation Center and a subsequent expansion of the facility. Other major projects completed during his tenure include the Breckenridge Golf Course expansion, the Riverwalk Center, Stephen C. West Ice Arena and the Blue River Reclamation project, which revitalized the in-town stretch of the river from little more than a ditch to the centerpiece attraction it is today. The construction of the Riverwalk Center allowed the town to recruit the National Repertory Orchestra, which has held its highly regarded annual music festival in Breckenridge since 1993. The facility is also home to Breckenridge Music Festival performances, featuring artists from around the world.

During Martinez’s time as manager, the town established a taxpayer-funded open space program; purchased many key land parcels for affordable housing development, parking and open space protection; and expanded its water rights portfolio, including a partnership in Clinton Reservoir.

“Breckenridge rightly deserves to be an international destination for recreation, arts and culture, and I couldn’t be prouder to have led the team that helped to advance that vision during the late 1980s and the 1990s,” Martinez said.

From 2000 to 2007, Martinez spent a stint in the private sector, as a managing partner for East West Partners Development Company in Eagle County. He oversaw the development of Eagle Ranch, a 1,200-unit real estate project in the town of Eagle.

In 2007, Martinez returned to Summit County to succeed Ron Holliday as Summit County manager. He took the reins at a fiscally challenging time, tasked with navigating the organization through the Great Recession, which necessitated major organizational restructuring, staff reductions and program cuts.

“That was one of the toughest challenges of my entire professional career,” Martinez said. “When you have an excellent staff that’s efficiently delivering much-needed programs and services to the community, it breaks your heart to make cuts as deep as we had to make them. But we had to face the economic realities of the times.

“Summit County revenues still haven’t fully recovered, but the organization is once again in solid financial shape. Much of the credit for that goes to Summit County voters, who have stepped up time and again to put resources toward key public priorities, such as emergency services, workforce housing, natural resource protections and early childhood education,” Martinez added.

During the recession, Summit County took advantage of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to aid in the construction of the $14 million fleet maintenance facility, which has a number of energy-efficient design features and is partly powered by solar energy. Other projects completed during Martinez’s tenure include the relocation of the Summit County South Branch Library into the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center, an historic renovation project led by the Town of Breckenridge; the expansion of Old Dillon Reservoir; the purchase of the 45-acre Lake Hill workforce housing site from the U.S. Forest Service; and the establishment of local funding partnerships for the Highway 9 Iron Springs realignment.

Over the years, Martinez has served on numerous committees and boards, including the Colorado River Water Conservation District Board of Directors, the Clinton Ditch & Reservoir Company Board of Directors, the Old Dillon Reservoir Water Authority, the Fifth Judicial District Review Commission on Judicial Performance, the Colorado Children’s Chorale Board of Trustees, the Breckenridge Festival of Film Board of Directors, the Colorado Association of Ski Towns Board of Directors and the Summit Foundation Board of Trustees.

To begin the selection process for Martinez’s replacement in the Summit County Manager’s Office, the Board of County Commissioners will invite select staff members inside the organization to apply for the position. The board has determined that it does not need to conduct an external search.

“We’re very fortunate to have a wealth of talent, experience, knowledge and skill within our existing senior management team,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said.

The board plans to name Martinez’s successor by mid-March.

“The next county manager has big shoes to fill, but we’re very confident that we’ll have multiple applicants who are up to the task,” Commissioner Dan Gibbs said. “Summit County will remain in great hands.”


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