Council Wants Reinders As Unalaska's Next City Manager

Apr 11, 2019

Erin Reinders, photographed in 2015 at her former office in Unalaska's Planning Department. She worked as planning director before her promotion to assistant city manager.
Credit Greta Mart/KUCB

The City Council wants Erin Reinders as Unalaska's next city manager.   

At a special meeting Thursday night, councilors heaped praise on Reinders — who currently works as assistant manager — before voting unanimously to start negotiations on a contract that'll promote her to the top job.

"Erin is a real community member," said Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson. "Her interest is in this community, and she loves it. Her family loves it."

Reinders has worked for the city since 2011 and was a finalist in the council's last two searches for a city manager.

In 2015, she lost out to Dave Martinson, who resigned within two years over clashes with the mayor and council. In 2018, she lost out to current city manager Thomas E. Thomas, who resigned last week without stating a reason for his departure.

"I'll be the first to say that I made a mistake the last time," said Robinson, referring councilors' unanimous decision to hire Thomas over Reinders. "But I think Erin will be really productive. I think our city will be well under her guidance, and I'm looking forward to it."

The rest of the council echoed Robinson's confidence in Reinders' experience, as well as her ability to lead a smooth transition after Thomas' last day on May 31.

"We have a policy at the city of trying to move people up through the ranks, and she has done that," said Councilor Roger Rowland. "She's actually served — at different times over the past few years, as city managers have been out of town — [as] acting city manager."

Mayor Frank Kelty will negotiate the contract with Reinders, who was offered a job as Seward's city manager on the same day Thomas submitted his letter of resignation.

Councilors did not address Reinders' other offer. But their decision to call a special meeting Thursday — two days after accepting Thomas' resignation — seems to have stemmed from their eagerness to keep her in Unalaska.

"I look forward to trying to come to an agreement with Erin," said Kelty. "I'll work real hard on coming up with an agreement that council can support."

Traveling on both personal and business leave, Reinders was not at the special meeting.

In a Monday email responding to KUCB's inquiries about her Seward offer, she wrote, "Right now is certainly a time of discernment, both personally and professionally. No final decision has been made yet and there are a number of different things to consider."