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Dillingham City Council considers two candidates from the Lower 48 for city manager

Izzy Ross/KDLG

The Dillingham City Council is considering two candidates for the city manager job, which has been open for almost a year. 

The candidates come from the Lower 48, and both have experience in city management and have worked at multiple levels of government. 
William “Bill” Vajda is originally from Marquette, Michigan, and has a background in cyber security and communications work with the state and federal government. 

He is currently the chief information officer for the U.S. Department of Interior. Prior to taking on that role, Vajda worked as the chief information officer for the State of Alaska for two years. He resigned in 2018. Vajda has also held many roles in communications under three presidential administrations in the federal government.  

Vajda worked as Marquette's city manager and chief administrative officer for five years. 

In the 2000s, Vajda served as a White House senior advisor, and as the CIO for the Department of Education. He also worked in the Department of Defense and the Department of Treasury.

Vajda said in his application that his most memorable accomplishment was during his time as Marquette city manager, when he worked with state, local and Tribal officials in Michigan to create a trade zone to support economic development there. 

The other city manager candidate, Robert Mawson, is from Miami, Arizona, and worked on the county and local levels. For the past two years, he has worked as the community and economic development manager for Central Arizona Governments, a regional planning agency for Gila and Pinal counties.

Among his other work, Mawson served two stints in city management — for four years in Miami, Arizona, in the mid-2000s, and more recently in Bandon, Oregon, where he was the city manager and director of utilities for three years. Bandon's local paper reported that he resigned unexpectedly in October 2019.

Mawson also served on a school district governing board for more than 21 years, from 1995 - 2016, and he was a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints for nine years, from 2006 - 2015.

Among the accomplishments Mawson included in his application, he said that he developed and managed 13 annual operating and capital budgets for four county, municipal, and Tribal governments, and recently completed a comprehensive economic development strategy for the Central Arizona Governments region.

Dillingham’s city manager will make $130,000 a year or more, depending on experience, plus benefits. The City of Dillingham worked with Pearson Consulting to recruit for the position.

Dillingham hasn’t had a permanent city manager since December, when Tod Larson resigned. Former Bristol Bay Borough manager Gregg Brelsford took over as Dillingham’s interim manager until May, when Chris Hladick, the EPA’s former Region 10 administrator, stepped into the role. Hladick’s contract as interim manager ends in November. 

The city held community receptions at the Lake Road Fire Hall for Mawson and Vajda last week. 

Contact the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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