Helen Howarth: Cordova’s new big cheese

Helen Howarth has been offered the position of Cordova city manager. (Oct. 2, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
Helen Howarth has been offered the position of Cordova city manager. (Oct. 2, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Ever since she opened Fromagio’s Artisan Cheese, Helen Howarth has resigned herself to being known as “the cheese lady.” Starting Oct. 18, she will also be Cordova’s city manager.

Howarth was offered the job at an Oct. 2 city council meeting. The entrepreneur and former Rasmuson Foundation program officer triumphed over 18 other applicants, drawing praise from the City Manager Selection Committee for her wide-ranging job experience and her finessed interviewing style.

As city manager, Howarth first intends to tackle Cordova’s budget problems, she said.

“I think, once I get a handle on the budget, then I’ll have a sense of where the community’s issues are,” Howarth said. “I’m a forward-thinker, and I was delighted to see the comprehensive plan that’s being put forward… There’s a lot of projects that anyone could sink their teeth into.”

Howarth’s experience with the Rasmuson Foundation and with various state agencies has sharpened her ability to find funding, whether from private or public sources, she said. She hopes that this experience will give her an edge in managing Cordova’s budget.

Getting to know the organizational intricacies of the city government may pose a challenge, Howarth said. However, she looks forward to relocating to a community she’s visited repeatedly from Anchorage, and where her husband is a longtime resident.

“I’m ready to dig in,” Howarth said.

Howarth will replace current City Manager Alan Lanning, whose contract expires Oct. 17.