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City manager search down to final 4
Interviews with mayor, council set for coming week
W McCollar Jonathan 2018
Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar

Statesboro’s mayor and council have invited four selected candidates for city manager back for interviews next week after recently sending them through an “assessment center” with lots of outside help.

The council has called a meeting for 8 a.m. Tuesday, April 9, with the only item on the agenda, between the Pledge of Allegiance and the motion to adjourn, being an “executive session,” or in other words closed-door discussion. Discussion of a hiring decision is one of the reasons that the Georgia Open Meetings act provides for closing a public meeting.

“Thursday and Friday of last week we had the opportunity to meet with Developmental Associates and the members of the assessment team, and so now we are down to four candidates that we are hopefully going to get the opportunity to interview on April the ninth,” Mayor Jonathan McCollar said earlier this week.

Later, he said that only three of the candidates are likely to be interviewed Tuesday, with the fourth possibly to be interviewed Friday, April 12.

 

Needed by June

In November, Statesboro City Council approved a new, five-month 2019 contract for current City Manager Randy Wetmore. His required working hours were reduced to 32 a week beginning Jan. 1 and leading to a May 31 conclusion, which he announced would be his retirement date.

The council and McCollar then launched a search for a new city manager with assistance from consulting firm Developmental Associates LLC of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

With an initial deadline of Feb. 17, the job posting and ads for the city manager position drew 45 applicants, McCollar reported. With the search firm’s help, the council selected 12 of these applicants, and after receiving further information, chose six of them to take part in an “assessment center.”

“These candidates come from everywhere across the country,” McCollar said. “So we’re really excited about the level of interest in regards to the position, and the final candidates that we have, I think we’re very fortunate to have these four individuals interested in this position.”

 

Assessment center

In the March 28-29 assessment center, a 14-member team, which did not include the mayor, council or current city of Statesboro staff members, the mayor said, scored the candidates on their responses to various questions and scenarios. Only four of the six applicants the council sought to invite participated, since one had withdrawn from the process earlier and another withdrew just before the assessment center.

Professionals such as city managers from other towns, human resources managers and finance people joined two local residents chosen by the council to make up the 14-member team, by the mayor’s description. The two community members were Dorsey Baldwin, previously on the city staff and now director of Statesboro Family YMCA, and Keely Fennell, construction contractor and Blue Mile Foundation president.

“These candidates have really, really gone through a tough vetting process, so I’m really pleased with the stamina that these individuals showed over that 48-hour period, as well as with those associated with the assessment center,” McCollar said.

But he said he had no names to announce Tuesday, when he was interviewed at the conclusion of the regular council meeting.

“We want to follow through on the process and then go from there,” McCollar said.

 

First face-to-face

He and the council also met in a closed-door session Friday, March 29, but two of the council members, District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum and District 2 Councilman Sam Jones, were not there. Even the mayor and the three council members who did attend did not meet the job candidates, but only heard from the search firm and assessment team.

So, next week’s meetings will be the candidates’ first direct interviews with the council.

“It’s great to get feedback from all of the individuals who interact with those candidates when they come to town,” Boyum said Tuesday. “But ultimately, they’ll have to work with the mayor and council, so it’s imperative that we pick the best candidate who will work most effectively with us and what the city has to do.”

Developmental Associates is the same consulting firm that in 2016-2017 assisted the city with the search that led to the hiring of Chief of Police Mike Broadhead. That successful search followed an aborted one the city had conducted, in which three finalists were introduced to the public but none was hired.

 

 Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.