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Cortez hires police officer as new HR director

Sgt. Matt Cashner replaces Gay Hall
Matt Cashner

The city of Cortez has hired Matt Cashner, a patrol sergeant in the Cortez Police Department, to replace Gay Hall as its human resources director.

During the city council’s Sept. 26 meeting, City Manager Shane Hale announced that Cashner had accepted the job offer after an interview the previous week. Former director Gay Hall retired at the beginning of September, he said. Despite having no experience in an HR position, Cashner was offered the job over multiple candidates who did have experience, according to Hale, who was on the interview board.

Out of the people who applied for the position, six finalists attended an interview on Sept. 20, Hale said, including two internal candidates and four from outside the city.

“We had ... some really good candidates, some really smart, highly qualified people,” Hale said at the council meeting. “It was great to see Matt stand out among his peers.”

Cashner stood out because of his reputation among Cortez residents after more than 20 years as a patrol officer, Hale said.

According to personnel information acquired by The Journal, Cashner has received above-average scores on all his annual performance evaluations for the past 10 years. Since 2009, he has consistently been rated as “outstanding” in his relations to the community, and several evaluations mentioned letters of appreciation from people he has worked with.

“He is a very good ambassador for this department and the city,” the comments for his 2017 evaluation said.

Cashner said he decided to apply for the position because he saw it as “a good career move.” According to payroll information released by the city in January, Cashner earned $30.75 per hour as a patrol sergeant. Neither he nor Hale would comment on his starting salary as HR director.

Cashner said he believes his experience as a police sergeant has given him people skills that will be valuable for his new job.

“I think it’s prepared me as far as conflict resolution,” he said. “People think policing is about the cops showing up to an incident and giving someone a ticket. ... It’s more about trying to help people resolve issues, and I think that will be a big part of this job.”

He still has a few more shifts at the police department before he leaves, but he said he has already started to study Colorado’s labor laws in preparation for his new position.

Cortez HR assistant Debbie Speer said the city tries to hire internally as much as possible. Hall also had no HR experience when he was hired, she said.

Hale said he was confident the current staff would be able to train the new director on software and city policy.

“What you need most in a director is someone people trust,” he said. “There are some technical things he’ll need to catch up on, but I think he will get up to speed on those.”

He said that in city government, “everybody knows (Cashner)” as a smart and honest person, and he believes he will do the job well.

His first day as the HR director will be Oct. 23.

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