Phil Castle, The Business Times
Frank Whidden brings what he considers a well-rounded perspective to his new job as Mesa County administrator.
Whidden worked in information technology and holds a master’s degree in computer information systems. But he also holds a doctoral degree in applied management and decision making and worked for more than 20 years as a minister. Whidden has worked for large and small organizations in both the private and public sectors.
Whidden expects to draw on all of his experiences in helping Mesa County commissioners make and carry out decisions.
Valuing staff and making the county an employer of choice is among the priorities, Whidden said. So is planning that results in sustainable funding and balanced budgets on a long-term basis.
Meanwhile, Mesa County will continue to pursue efforts that promote a friendly business environment and economic development, Whidden said.
Whidden officially began working as county administrator at the beginning of the year. He succeeds Tom Fisher, who was hired as county manager in Summit County, Utah.
Whidden joined Mesa County in August 2011 as information technology director. In April 2014, he became deputy county administrator for resource management in a staffing reorganization that eliminated four director positions.
Before joining Mesa County, Whidden worked for a company providing information technology services to colleges and universities. In that role, he managed IT systems and services for institutions in Alabama, Arizona, Illinois as well as New England and Canada.
Whidden said people who work in information technology aren’t just “geeks,” but offer an important perspective because they’re familiar with nearly every aspect of operations and how work gets done. They also tend to think about new and potentially better ways of doing things in asking and answering “what if” questions. “They know how to effect change in an organization.”
Whidden expects to bring that same approach to his duties as administrator.
Whidden said it’s his role to help county commissioners make and then implement decisions. The commissioners in turn represent the residents of the county and express their will, he said. “We work for the people.”
Whidden said he also considers himself a liaison between the commissioners and county staff, and one of the priorities is to make sure employees feel valued. Whidden said he hopes not only to improve morale, but also take steps that will make Mesa County an organization for which people want to work.
Meanwhile, Whidden expects the county to continue policies and initiatives that support local business and economic development. There are additional steps that can be taken to make it easier for local businesses to sell products and services to the county, he added.
Mesa County will keep working with other government entities, organizations and institutions on fostering an environment that supports existing businesses and attracts new businesses, he said.
Whidden said there could be a opportunities to encourage the additional development of businesses that provide services to the agricultural industry as well as promote Mesa County as a distribution center for the region.
The important thing is to consider issues from a well-rounded perspective, Whidden said. “We won’t be myopic as we look at things.”