Process Underway in City Manager Search

The Collins Center has begun interviewing city councillors this week to start crafting a public document of priorities and qualities that will be sent out to any potential candidates for the permanent city manager position, according to Stephen McGoldrick and Dick Kobayashi of the Center.

At a public forum at Bunker Hill Community College, Council President Leo Robinson – flanked by most of his Council colleagues – unveiled an official timeline for the search process.

That process, McGoldrick said, has already started with interviews of councillors about what they would like to see in a City Manager. Those interviews will be used in an official public document announcing the opening – a document that Robinson said would include input from the public to councillors.

“We conducted three [Council] interviews today and we’ll conduct four on Thursday and expect to be done with all of them by the middle of next week,” said McGoldrick. “We’re looking at a draft to be presented to the Council at its January 26 meeting. They’ll get input and then I’d like to have the Council vote on that publicly at their first meeting in February. It would be good to have a screening committee appointed at that time also to get it out of the way.”

Robinson reiterated that the Council is “equal to the task” of running the process openly and transparently and successfully – something he said at length in his presidential acceptance speech last week.

He said he would be appointing a group of city councillors to form the initial membership of the Screening Committee.

“That committee hasn’t been appointed yet, but I will be appointing three councillors who will be on the Screening Committee,” he said. “They will decide the chair and they will go out into the community and find others to participate on that Committee and they will be appointed. We’ll vote to accept or not accept that Committee at the February meeting.”

The Screening Committee has been heavily discussed at Council and outside of City Hall quite a lot lately, and mostly because it will serve to whittle down the applicants in private, executive session meetings.

It is the only part of the process that won’t be completely open to the public, and the reason being that preliminary applicants often won’t apply to a job opening if their names aren’t kept confidential. That’s because many might already be in good positions, and if they aren’t chosen as finalists, they don’t want to jeopardize their jobs.

Both McGoldrick and Kobayashi said a Screening Committee is a common part of almost all of the 35 city manager searches they have conducted.

Some names for that Committee have been batted around, but as of now Robinson said there is nothing official to report. He will make the decision in the coming weeks.

Additionally, anyone with interest in serving on the Committee should contact the City Council via telephone or via the Council e-mail ([email protected]). The membership on the Committee will be limited, so not everyone who expresses interest will be chosen. Kobayashi has recommended that the Committee be made up of about 12 to 15 people from all segments of the city – though City Hall employees are discouraged from being on that Committee.

Kobayashi said the Center and the Committee will convene in earnest after initial applications are received, for which the deadline is March 15.

The Committee will meet at least twice a week after March 15. It is expected they could get as many as 30 qualified applicants by that deadline. The Collins Center and the Committee will be charged with whittling that number down to a short list of three to five finalists.

That work will be done in private, as mentioned above, but the short list will be public.

“The Committee will have a lot of work before it and there is no set date for that work to be done, but when the finalists are recommended, that will begin a public process,” said McGoldrick. “We’re shooting for that to happen at some point in May. “Depending on how long the City Council takes to make their selection from that list of finalists, we’re looking at a June or July appointment.”

Kobayashi said the Collins Center has conducted 35 city manager searches and all but one of those persons placed through those searches is still in the job.

“We believe our method and track record is very good,” he said.

One thing was understood by everyone in the audience, and that was the fact that the process was going to really begin ramping up and going much faster in the coming weeks. While late December and early January have been slower times for the process, the timeline indicated that things will begin picking up rapidly.

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