City manager interviews held, but is a hiring near? | ParkRecord.com

City manager interviews held, but is a hiring near?

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council last week interviewed the City Hall staffers who applied for the vacant city manager position, a critical step as the elected officials decide whether to hire someone from inside the organization for the top Marsac Building staff position.

The elected officials have released virtually no information about the internal search in the little more than two weeks since indicating that one would be conducted following an unsuccessful national recruitment in 2012.

In an interview on Monday, the mayor declined to identify the number of City Hall staffers who were interviewed. He said each of the people who applied was interviewed, though. Williams declined to provide details about the people who applied. It is not known which departments are represented in the field and the tenure of the people who submitted their names for the position.

Williams said each of the interviews lasted a little more than an hour.

"I thought that all of the candidates were qualified," he said.

The mayor declined to discuss whether the elected officials have conducted a straw poll.

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Diane Foster, who is the interim city manager and had been the deputy city manager, has said she applied for the permanent position. Nobody else has said publicly they submitted their name for the job. Foster has worked for City Hall since 2008, starting as the environmental sustainability manager, and was named the deputy city manager in the spring of 2012. Her background includes extensive time in the private sector.

The elected officials have conducted the recruitment process in closed-door sessions. State law allows public bodies like a city council to meet in closed sessions when personnel matters are discussed. The mayor and City Council have spent hours in closed-door sessions in recent weeks, likely discussing the city manager position.

Williams said he anticipates the elected officials will decide by March 25 whether one of the internal candidates will be hired or whether another national recruitment will be undertaken.

If one of the internal candidates is selected, it is not clear when the hiring will be made public. There could be a delay between the selection and an announcement to allow the elected officials and the person time to finalize an agreement.

The elected officials are searching for someone to succeed Tom Bakaly, the city manager who served from 2003 until his departure in late August. He left to become the city manager in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

A nationwide recruitment appeared promising in its early days, but it eventually fizzled in December when the elected officials could not agree on either of the two finalists. Information about the finalists was not made public. More than 90 people applied for the position.

The elected officials weeks later decided to conduct an internal recruitment, saying that it would be less expensive than another national search and minimizes the potential of delays.