The City and Borough of Wrangell has narrowed down its prospects for the borough manager position to two candidates. Current Manager Jeff Jabusch announced his retirement in September.
The hiring committee made up of Wrangell Borough Assembly members and borough administration started the process last fall, sifting through 21 applicants. Assembly member Mark Mitchell said the committee is looking forward to meeting the finalists in person.
“We picked out four that were good quality people, and we started the process of bringing them up here. In that process, two backed out,” he said. “So we still have two good candidates. We’re going to do the interviews one to one, face to face. If we don’t like what we see then, we’ll start the whole process over.”
Bradley Hanson and Ann Capela are the two remaining applicants. The committee wants to interview both Hanson and Capela on Feb. 14, the night of the assembly’s regular meeting. The assembly will decided Jan. 24 whether to reschedule the meeting to the following day.
One of two prospects for Wrangell borough manager, Bradley Hanson. (Courtesy of Brad Hanson.)
According to Hanson’s resume, he’s held two city administrator positions in Bridgeport, Nebraska and Onawa, Iowa since 2011. He left his position in Onawa in early 2016. Hanson also held a city council position in Federal Heights, Colorado for three years. He acknowledged the borough’s struggles with reduced funding from the state and said he has experience with revenue issues.
“Both locations that I’ve been in, the city of Bridgeport and the city of Onawa, were both in detrimental aspects when it came to finances,” Hanson explained.  “Bridgeport was just electrical issues. When I went into Onawa, the general fund, the electrical utility, the water, the waste water utility, everything was in the red.”
Hanson said utility rates were raised to adequate levels. Hanson graduated with his a master’s in public administration from the University of Denver in 2012.  Several Iowa news outlets and the Sioux City Journal reported that Hanson pled guilty to assaulting his 15-year-old son in March of 2015. Hanson was on probation for a year after the incident. According to the Cordova Times, Hanson was also one of three finalists in September for a Cordova city manager position.
Ann Capela’s resume details several local and county government positions dating back to 1995. Capela has held seven leadership positions in townships, counties and most recently as the city manager in Bethel.
Wrangell borough manager finalist, Ann Capela. (Photo by Ben Matheson, KYUK.)
Capela started her stint in Bethel in 2014, but Alaska Dispatch News reported she left little more than year before her contract was set to end in November 2017.
“Went out to work in Bethel and just thought I completed what I want to do in Bethel and went back home to the Lower 48,” said Capela.
Capela was quoted saying difficult winters were her primary reason for leaving. Capela was credited with stringing together $8 million in funding to rebuild Bethel’s sewer.
She explained that in the state’s current fiscal crisis, capital projects and providing government services will continue to be a challenge.
“The challenge for all local government, can they continue to provide services at the level without having a diversified source of revenue,” she noted. “The debate has been quite a bit about whether or not the state should go to a state income or sales tax. The revenue is really imbalanced and local government in times of these fiscal crisis has to look at what they’re offering.”
Current manager Jabusch, a life-long Wrangellite, has worked for the city since 1979. He plans to end his three years as manager in March.
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