Ending a distinguished career on a high note
Aug 31, 2017 06:23PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Mark Palesh served as West Jordan City manager from September 2015 to September 2017 before returning to retirement (Mark Palesh)
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By Becca Ketelsleger | Becca.firstname.lastname@example.org
Having managed seven cities over nearly 40 years, Mark Palesh has decided to end his career on a high note with West Jordan.
Born in Buffalo, New York, Palesh relocated to Utah three different times for various opportunities before finally deciding to retire here in 2011.
After several years out of the workforce, he felt the pull to go back to what he enjoys: helping communities and working with amazing people.
“I was fortunate to be approved for an interview for Cedar City, South Jordan and West Jordan, and I cancelled the interviews for South Jordan and Cedar City,” said Palesh.
For Palesh, the biggest draw to West Jordan in 2015 was South Valley Regional Airport.
“I’m into flying, and I thought that would be a great move for me,” he said. “I didn’t know at the time that the city didn’t own the airport!”
Palesh’s love of flying and airfields is evident in his military career. Having served for many years as, among other things, a chief airfield manager, Palesh went on to retire in 1996 as a lieutenant colonel.
Working with the airport ranks as one of Palesh’s proudest accomplishments during his time with West Jordan.
Throughout his time as city manager, Palesh worked to get West Jordan a seat on the Salt Lake Airport Board, which governs the airport in West Jordan as well as two other airports in the area. Prior to this, the city had never had representation in those meetings despite the airport being such an integral part of the city. In addition, Utah House Bill 453 was passed in 2017, which secured West Jordan’s seat on the board.
“We see great things for our airport, Palesh said. “I think it’s an economic development driver, and we should now have more say in how it’s developed and what services are offered, and we can hopefully make it something we can be proud of.”
Another highlight to his career was the foundation for three new buildings that will be built soon: the rec center, the arts center and the Department of Public Services building.
When he was hired to the position, Palesh noticed West Jordan had the same problems as most other cities that he had worked with. City leaders want to be able to provide the best for their residents while raising taxes as little as possible.
“We were able to look at three buildings that the city has wanted for over 15 years,” he said. “All three are in progress now.”
Partially, these changes were made because of Palesh’s prior experience with handling large cities with significant budgets and numerous employees, as well as working on negotiations.
With a time of turmoil prior to his acceptance of the position, Palesh’s tenure as a city manager may have been the calm before the storm. The upcoming government change posed to residents on the November ballot could do away with the manager-council form of government permanently and eliminate the need for the position.
“I’m a believer in the council-manager form, where we hire a CEO,” said Palesh. “They (the council) create the laws under which the CEO will operate. If, in fact, you have four out of the seven that say he isn’t doing a good job, he’s gone five minutes later. Under the strong mayor format, you can’t do that.”
Until the new city council takes office in January, City Attorney David Brickey will act as the interim city manager, with Russ Wall acting as the deputy city manager. They both were confirmed unanimously and took their oath of office on July 26.
Regardless of what happens in November, Palesh will not be submitting his resume for any more city management positions. This will be his last return from retirement.
“I only came back to help out the city, and I think I’ve done that,” said Palesh. “My biggest draw was the people I worked with every day. It’s extremely rewarding, and I learned something every day from these people. That’s what I really missed.”