For the first time in 16 years, Columbine Valley has a new town administrator.
JD McCrumb took the reins from Ann Jennings on July 1 after spending a month learning the ropes from her.
“One of the hard parts of following someone who’s been here for 16 years is losing that institutional knowledge,” he said. “There’s certainly a long learning curve. I’m poring through files and digging through drawers. I hired a part-time file clerk to help with that. Ann did not need to look it up, she just knew it. I don’t have that luxury.”
McCrumb has recently worked as data analyst for FEMA and campaign manager for Montana Republican William Bennett. Prior to that, he spent five years as the town of Parker’s special-projects manager, where he set up the Sister Cities program with Xinjin in China, wrote the emergency plan, developed the events center and more. He served as a steering committee co-chair for Leadership Douglas County, and spent nearly a year as the community relations and program coordinator for Historic Denver Inc.
He’s been on Town Hall Arts Center’s board since December, and is in the process of moving to Littleton with his wife, Briana, and baby daughter, McKenzie. He’s a native of the south-metro area, where his parents and two grandmothers still reside. A 1998 graduate of Arapahoe High School, he spent a lot of time on the drum line in marching band and a little time in theater. Then he was off to the Montana State University, where he started out majoring in architecture.
“But I found that both my passion and my skill set went more toward politics and government,” he said, so he ended up with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He’s currently working on his master’s thesis, a study of community volunteerism through the ages, through the University of Colorado at Denver.
“Bozeman wasn’t big enough, and it wasn’t active enough,” he said. “One Broadway show a year in the field house didn’t cut it for me, so I always knew I was coming home.”
McCrumb’s first order of business upon arriving in Columbine Valley was to meet with the board of trustees to see how he could help them achieve their goals. Out of those conversations, he says, it became apparent that improved communication with the citizens was a priority. He’s says he’ll reinvent both the town newsletter and website for increased access to information.
“My personal view is that I don’t really have a fear of giving people as much information as possible,” he said. “Most of it they’re legally entitled to, so why not just put it out there?”
Other than that, he said, it’s not his job to have a vision for the city or to take sides; it’s his job to help facilitate the board’s vision of the city.
“We have a lot of people here who have great expertise,” he said. “They don’t need handled or even motivated. They just need to be supported, and have those skills and goals aligned.”
He says he’s ready to take on future challenges, such as the likely upcoming election driven by citizens who are fighting the Willowcroft redevelopment. The deadline for the group to turn in petitions is Sept. 23. If there are enough signatures, it will be on the town’s April ballot — the first election McCrumb will oversee in his career.
Another issue looming is redevelopment of nearly a fourth of the town. The 106-acre Tuck property is being scoped out by developers, and McCrumb expects a proposal to be on the table sometime next year.
When they hired him, the trustees asked McCrumb to commit to staying on for three years, a promise he says won’t be hard to keep.
“My goal is not to be a city manager,” he said. “My goal is helping the trustees grow and achieve their potential for whatever they want in life. And the other part is, I live in this area. I don’t intend to move around every two or three years. And as long as there are things to do and positive change, I hope to be here.”
McCrumb looks forward to meeting all the residents and getting them involved.
“Everybody has something to offer,” he said. “We need people with different skills to fulfill certain roles. Find a niche and get in there and do it.”