Council steps closer to picking city manager

arah Baldwin

Kent City Council is half-way done with the search for a new city manager, according to Councilman Wayne Wilson. The council narrowed the group of applicants from eight to three, with two alternates, at last night’s meeting.

The council has been looking since former city manager Lew Steinbrecher announced he was leaving last October.

The city manager handles nearly all the day-to-day operations of the city, including the hiring of employees and other administrative duties.

“In the business world, we’d call him the CEO,” Wilson said.

The council currently does not know the particulars of the candidates, such as age, race and gender. They did this in order to remain unbiased throughout the hiring process and to get the best person for the job.

Wilson mentioned that one characteristic the council was looking for, in particular, was someone who has had experience working in a college town.

“They must have good skills with working with people, particularly university officials and continue the good rapport,” Wilson said.

He also added that the council is looking for someone who can work with students and take their ideas seriously.

“We want someone who will address (student) concerns,” Wilson said.

Interim City Manager William Lillich mentioned that, in addition to someone who is interested in the university and its affairs, the candidate should demonstrate economic development as a specific strength, with examples from prior jobs.

During last night’s meeting, an hour-and-a-half conference call was made with Tom Dority, a representative of the Mercer Group, a recruiting firm that is employed by the council to help with the hiring process.

The top three candidates that were selected are as follows:

Candidate A is a current city manager in a town with a state university. This candidate is a seasoned manager, and his or her family is older. This candidate would be taking a pay cut by coming to Kent; however, the cost of living is higher in the town where this person currently works.

Candidate B is a city manager from a small Midwestern town. He or she comes with high recommendations for the position. This person is considered one of the best upcoming managers in his or her state, and while this candidate doesn’t currently work in a university town, he or she has in the past.

Candidate H is an assistant manager in a city with a population of 77,000 people. This applicant has worked as a city manager for smaller towns in the past, and he or she is described as a motivated self-starter who would be able to work alone.

The alternates are as follows:

Candidate E is a manager of a small town who came up in the ranks through the police department and also operated his or her own law firm.

Candidate F is an assistant manager of a town with a population of 45,000. He or she is described as being a very bright and modern person who understands the historic value of the communities where he or she works.

Council will bring the candidates to Kent for interviews in mid March or early April.

Contact public affairs reporter Sarah Baldwin at [email protected]