Search is on for Eureka city manager: Council to meet with search firm in closed meeting on Jan. 21

The Eureka City Council will meet with search firm Peckham and McKenney at its next meeting on Jan. 21 to learn more about the city manager candidates.

"We'll be getting information about who has applied ... and will be able to take a look at the candidates and ask questions," Councilman Mike Newman said. "Then, we'll see about narrowing it down."

The search firm has screened the 37 candidates, and conducted preliminary interviews. Firm partner Phil McKenney said he looked for strong management abilities, financial acumen as far as the budget is concerned, strong economic development and strong public safety administration.

In the closed session conference call, the council will receive a report, have a chance to look at the candidates, ask questions and narrow down the list to determine who will be invited to interviews on Feb. 3.

"I'm looking for somebody that can just bring stability to the city, run city hall, manage the employees and deal with the day-to-day things that happen in the city," Mayor Frank Jager said. "As far as I'm concerned, (interim City Manger) Mike Knight fills all of those categories."

Newman said he's also looking for someone who can see the big picture and complete projects in a timely manner.

Councilwoman Melinda Ciarabellini said the right candidate will be able to appreciate the unique qualities of the city -- and grasp its challenges.

"It needs to be somebody who understands our community and the diversity we have here, and the issues we're facing here," she said. "Of course you want to make sure, especially if you're hiring somebody from out of the area ... that this is a place they want to live and play and work."

The council is searching for a new city manager following Bill Panos' resignation in October after nine months on the job. He left to accept a position with the Wyoming Governor's Office.

Peckham and McKenney won't charge the city for its services because Panos didn't stay two years -- a provision of the search firm's contract -- but the city is still responsible for advertising costs.

"I placed two other candidates with the city of Eureka -- the city attorney and the chief of police -- and I'm looking for a successful process here as well," McKenney said.

After Panos' brief stay, Jager said he thinks the council will be more cautious this time around.

"We don't want to hire somebody and have them leave nine months later," he said. "We don't want to go through the process this often. It's costly, and it takes time."

Newman said the city was spoiled with former City Manager David Tyson's more than 10-year tenure, although there were several in quick succession before he came on board.

"I certainly don't want to see that happen again, but you can't guarantee things," he added. "Hopefully, we find somebody that fits us well and always has the best interest of the city at heart."

The council aims to hire a new city manager in April or May.

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or lrodriguez@times-standard.com. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.

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