It was a love fest.
When The Town Council named Dave Wilbrecht as the new Town Manager this week, Mammoth residents universally approved the decision.
From Tom Cage, of Kittredge Sports and P3 and Nordic advocate Brian Knox, to recreation commissioner Bill Sauser, former town planner Bill Taylor and former National Forest Service administrator Sandy Hogan, all were crazy nuts about the decision.
“He’s a natural leader,” Hogan said, echoing county tourism director Alicia Vennos. “The town is very, very lucky. He’s an incredible leader,” Vennos said.
In explaining his position in hiring Wilbrecht, town council member Matthew Lehman said it was, basically, a no-brainer.
“What really drew me to Dave was his sense of integrity and professionalism,” he said.
“Plus, there’s his background.
“The fact that he’s already working in the administration of the county and lives here in Mammoth is good for everybody when it comes to issues that we share, such as airport issues and solid waste.
“Most of all, we know what we’re getting in Dave.”
Wilbrecht replaces Town Manager Rob Clark, who took over town management in Ojai earlier this year after six years at Mammoth’s helm, and interim town manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.
He begins in June.
What the town gets is someone who doesn’t have to “learn” the town.
Wilbrecht is a former Mammoth recreation director who left for his county administration position eight years ago.
He sowed good will in his time in the Mammoth town government, and perfected his management skills in Bridgeport, juggling the myriad policies of the county, from Walker in the north to Crowley Lake and Swall Meadows in the south.
He arrives at a time when Mammoth’s leaders have retreated from the idea of a development-driven economy recreation-driven base.
“Dave’s got a good grasp of the community,” said recreation director Stuart Brown.
“He understands the environmental conditions we’re under, and as ex-Parks and Recreation director, he’ll be fantastic for our cause. He’s an advocate for recreation.
“The job is going to take someone with a good background on who we are and where we want to go, and has good vision.
“He’s trusted and respected. We’re trying to break down the silos, work together and rally around the common cause. So Dave’s really good.”
Mayor Skip Harvey, who directed a slew of closed-session council meetings on the Town Manager search, said he was sold from the first.
“He understands what it takes to live and survive in the Town of Mammoth Lakes,” Harvey said.
“He understands the uniqueness of our area and how quickly you have to adapt, how quickly you need to make changes and adjustments.
“That may be because of the environment, the economy, because U.S. 395 is closed, or whatever.
“To have someone who already has years of experience in our town is invaluable.
“He came in from a recreation background, understands the needs of our economy, and is on board with that.”
The principle of recreation as the core strength of the town reverberated throughout Mammoth and among its leaders.
“I’m excited to have him on board,” said tourism chief John Urdi of Visit Mammoth.
“He’s got a great grasp of tourism, he’s got experience, and he will help us propel the tourism world into a whole other spectrum as we move forward.”
On Mammoth Mountain, CEO Rusty Gregory said he was happy with the decision, and also happy with the speed with which the council acted.
“I applaud the Town Council for being decisive and making a quick decision,” he said, “not polling the general public around town.
“I don’t know Dave well, but what I know of him I like him a great deal.
“His belief in recreation and tourism will serve him well.”