Decatur City Commission preparing to interview finalists for City Manager job

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 14, 2018

Decatur City Hall.

The search for a candidate to replace longtime Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss has been a quiet one since she announced her intention to retire.

City Commissioners are under pressure to have someone lined up to replace her when she leaves on Jan. 1, 2019.

The commission hired a search firmGovHR USA, in August and a few weeks later it received the contract, the firm held an open house for community input. In October, the city announced it had more than 100 applicants for the job.

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers said the city received 106 applicants in all. Now that the search firm has whittled that list down to 10 people, City Commissioners are gearing up for the interview process.

The interview process will not be public and will be done in closed-door executive sessions. Powers called the list of finalists “a diverse pool from all over the country.”

He declined to say whether any of the top officials in Decatur city government made the city’s short list of candidates.

“We’re still formulating our question list,” Powers said. “But one of the things we will ask for all of those folks is a writing sample. We’ll give them a topic and get a public response to the topic.”

Decaturish asked Powers to explain why they are asking candidates for a writing sample.

“Part of what the city manager does is respond to a crisis, or some external event,” Powers said. “That’s part of what the city manager is tasked with.”

The city hasn’t announced any dates for candidate interviews.

Commissioner Kelly Walsh previously said, “Decatur should hire a city manager who is steeped in the culture and history of the city as well as someone with high credibility and experience working with county officials and state leaders. Her replacement will need to have a strategic vision of where Decatur is heading in the next decade and beyond with a view to balancing growth while protecting the high quality of life residents enjoy today.”

Walsh said that’s what she’ll be looking for when interviews begin.

“It’s very daunting and when you have a great process and a strong pool of candidates overall, it’s a good exercise for a city,” she said.

The city published a brochure outlining what it would like to see in a new city manager.

According to the brochure:

– Candidates should have a reputation for personal and professional integrity and trustworthiness, and for leading an organization by example and conducting all personal and professional interactions honestly, fairly and ethically.

– Candidates should have a calm, professional demeanor with the ability to exhibit grace under pressure and an unflappable style in dealing with conflict. Candidates must be skilled in balancing competing interests with an intelligent, active and often persistent citizenry.

– Candidates should be politically savvy, but not political, and must have the maturity, self-confidence and strength of professional convictions to provide administrative insights and counsel to the City Commission and staff. They must be able to firmly and diplomatically present professional views and carry out administrative decisions in a timely, professional and impartial manner.

– Candidates must be able to create an environment dedicated to teamwork and empowerment by seeking input from key staff and then setting the course for the leadership team to follow, with clear expectations, and allowing senior staff to manage and produce results.

– Candidates must be comfortable with and seek out community interaction and engagement, participating in community events and being accessible to the residents and businesses in Decatur.

– Candidates must have a vision of where the City can go, consistently moving the City forward. A willingness and desire to listen to new ideas and be innovative and creative when addressing those ideas is essential.

– Candidates must have well-developed customer service and leadership skills, reinforcing responsiveness throughout the organization.

– Candidates must display a strong work ethic and an optimistic “can-do” attitude when addressing the complex issues facing municipal governments across the country and in Georgia.

To read the full brochure, click here.

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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