When Terry Holzworth talks about his new job, he sounds more like an enthusiastic intern than a hardened government veteran.
"We've got a lot of good, exciting things ahead of us," said Holzworth, West Jordan's new city manager. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."Holzworth, who received widespread public recognition and acclaim for battling the elements to a draw during the floods of 1983-84, was chosen over 170 other applicants last week to succeed John Hiskey.
Hiskey gave up the more than $50,000-per-year job after only seven months to return to his previous position with the Utah Economic Development Corp.
A shift in the Salt Lake County Commission's political tilt - from Republican to Democrat - cost Holzworth his position as county public works director earlier this year. Having just earned a master of public administration degree at the University of Utah, he had considered becoming a consultant before opting for the city manager's job.
"I really struggled with it, but then I thought, boy, here's a chance to apply some of that stuff while it's still fresh," he said.
Holzworth's apparent rift with the new county commissioners, Randy Horiuchi and Jim Bradley, caused some concern among the West Jordan City Council, but Holzworth assured them that there were no hard feelings that might impede intergovernmental cooperation.
"Randy and I can look each other in the eye and say, `This is how the system works.' What's done is done. I feel I can walk into the County Government Center and be welcomed there as a professional. All those doors are wide open, as far as I'm concerned. If anything, I may have even more credibility with them than before."
And Holzworth's reputation as a flood-fighter, emergency organizer and administrator has earned him a lot of credibility, if not a political power base, over the years. Often mentioned as a potential candidate on the local and statewide level, he ran for office only once - for mayor of his home town of West Jordan in 1985 - and came in third.
Holzworth says there are no political "residues" in his portfolio, and he expects to work well with Mayor Kenneth A. Miller and the City Council.
"They are all dedicated and hardworking people," Holzworth said of the city's elected officials. "They want to do those things that are in the best long-term interest of the community."
Holzworth and his family moved to West Jordan from Montana in 1970. He and his wife, Perrylee, have four children. As a longtime resident and observer of city government, he says, "The course we're on now seems to be the right one."
That course, according to Holzworth, will take the community into a solid and vibrant maturity. He intends to continue the new emphasis on larger homes on larger lots, hoping to encourage what is being called "second home neighborhoods" to balance the large number of small starter homes in West Jordan.
He said he will also concentrate on the city's transportation links, explaining, "What we do here with our roads and highways will benefit everybody in the valley."
His 10 years of experience as district engineer for the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District has prepared him to address water development issues associated with rapid growth and drought.
"We're approaching a population of 50,000 with a lot of room yet to fill in, and the challenge is to do it in a quality way," Holzworth said.
One of the strengths of West Jordan is its emphasis on citizen participation, he said. "The people of the community are a tremendous source of new ideas."
Another strength is its public employees, he added. "The group that is currently here is an exciting bunch to be in the middle of."