The decision to step down as the city attorney was a tough one, but Stephen Alcorn is ready for the next step in his life and career.
Alcorn’s resignation from his eight and a half year stint as city attorney ends effective Dec. 17 and he departs with a slew of personal and professional accomplishments.
The attorney joined the city staff in 2013, bringing with him a multitude of professional accolades, including seven years as assistant district attorney in the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and nine years as special judge of the District Court of Oklahoma County.
He was chosen as the 2007 Outstanding Judge of the Year for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg American Inn of Court and as the Oklahoma CASA Judge of the Year in 2009. He also served on the board of the Oklahoma Interviewing Services, a nonprofit organization that provides interviews with compassion and expert care of children that have been victims of sexual assault.
Alcorn reminisced on his time in Montrose.
Projects such as the Public Safety Complex now under construction, the acquisition and transfer from private ownership of Black Canyon golf course to a city entity, making Riverbottom and Cerise Park not only a whitewater park, but a recreation area, all stand out for the seasoned attorney.
During his tenure, he has been involved with a variety of municipal law matters related to contract administration, municipal court, municipal code revisions, development agreements and risk management, the city’s press release outlined.
It’s his relationship with colleagues, however, that remains special.
“The staff I get to work with on an everyday basis are just wonderful individuals, as well as the job diversity that comes along with it,” said Alcorn. “Maybe one minute [I’ll be] dealing with HR matters and then two hours later, the riverbank is giving way and we have to expedite a repair on a riverbank. And then later on, it’s a real estate matter. So I love the people that I work with and I will really miss the job diversity that goes along with the position.”
Alcorn said he is proud to have been accessible to other employees. Oftentimes, attorneys can be intimidating and overbearing, but Alcorn has developed an open-door reputation.
Addressing a legal issue in its infancy is much better than waiting for it to become a bigger issue that has to be handled in litigation, the attorney explained, so knowing that people feel comfortable knocking on his door to talk through an issue, personal or work-related, has been key.
But being the city attorney has brought many long, “tough” years into the Alcorns’ life and they’re ready for a break.
“Each year is kind of like a dog year ... and the job opportunities for my wife have really skyrocketed with COVID because of her background. It’s time to give her career a front seat for a while,” Alcorn said of his wife, Melissa.
A nationwide recruiting effort for a new city attorney will begin next month and Alcorn’s greatest hope for his successor is that he or she cares about city employees as both individuals and staff.
“These people who work for the city are wonderful and they deserve nothing less than that,” said Alcorn.
According to a city press release announcing Alcorn’s departure, the city attorney, city manager and municipal court judge are the only administrative employees hired by, and who report directly to, the Montrose City Council.
Provisions related to council’s oversight of the city attorney are described in the Montrose City Charter, Article VII, Sections 2 and 3, and is therein assigned to “advise the Council and City Officials in matters relating to their official powers and duties, and perform such other duties as Council may prescribe by ordinance or resolution.”
The city attorney isn’t leaving behind any “absolutely critical” projects, but he’s confident in the newly-hired assistant city attorney Chris Dowsey as he steps up in the interim. While the city searches for a new city attorney, Dowsey will help in areas such as the Public Safety Complex, ensuring projects stay on track.
“We both have a couple of irons in the fire, but not really sure where we’re going to end up,” said Alcorn. “We hope to be Montrose-based, but only time will tell.”
Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.