by Patrick Fitzgerald
Littleton’s Public Works Director, Mark Relph, will serve as Acting City Manager while City Council searches for a replacement for the recently-fired Michael Penny. During his interview before City Council to serve as Littleton’s acting city manager, Relph showed himself to be a conscientious and diligent public servant.
This is consistent with the view of many of the citizens who had personal dealings with Relph as Public Works Director. Citizens have been impressed with his willingness to meet personally, and his desire to address problems.
Before coming to Littleton, Relph had a career as City Engineer and Public Works Manager in small-to-medium sized cities all over the western United States. He also has previous experience as interim City Manager.
A desire to be back in Colorado for the last job of his career, led him to take the Littleton Public Works Manager at $30,000 less that he was getting in a similar-sized city in Washington state. That pattern continues as he asked less for his interim position than the fired Littleton City Manager had received.
Relph has demonstrated a management style rare in both the public and private sectors. Respect for the importance of the jobs performed under his charge, and for the experience of those doing them, leads him to seek input from the professionals he supervises. His style is to deal with those people face-to-face, rather than in emails and memos. He has demonstrated the same style with the public, meeting in person to listen respectfully to citizen concerns, and giving prompt responses.
City Council may be confident that day-to-day City affairs are in good hands while they search for a permanent City Manager. Relph says he is not interested in that position. Citizens, also, may be confident that Council will not be pressured to make a hasty decision, and will be able to conduct a true and wide-ranging search for the next Littleton City Manager.
Relph has given much thought to city processes like budgeting and standards, and will be helping Littleton function in better ways while he serves as Acting City Manager. He will not be just a competent placeholder, but an active worker for improvement.