Wanted: Strong relationship with exceptional interpersonal and communication skills. Must be able to learn quickly and serve impressively as a city representative. Management experience and knowledge of municipal utilities desirable, but not required. Bachelor's degree optional.
This classified ad could be written by the Lodi City Council in its search for a new city manager. To create a hiring profile, a consultant conducted council member and selected citizen interviews. The results were presented to the public at a special meeting Tuesday.
Council members hope to have a new city manager in place by Dec. 3. Candidates have until Oct. 15 to apply.
"We recognize the schedule is stringent, but necessary," Mayor Larry Hansen said.
Former City Manager Dixon Flynn resigned Aug. 3 to run for City Council. Janet Keeter, the deputy city manager, was chosen as interim city manager the following day.
Flynn is now running for City Council.
"Having a new city manager is not the goal. (It's) having a great city manager," Hansen said.
The firm, chosen earlier this month by the mayor, met individually with council members last week to collect their insights regarding the community's needs, and the personal and professional characteristics desired in a city manager.
Consultant Kris Kristensen, who will be paid $25,500 for the recruitment, also spent roughly 15 minutes each on the phone with 15 citizens recommended by the council to provide opinions.
Most of them - including wanting a city manager that can designate land for business, draw the council together as a team and enhance the city's image - mesh with qualities council members are seeking.
The following are qualities sought in a city manager, divided into comments from citizens and council members:
What citizens want
• A city manager who wants to make a better economic development effort.
• Someone who can provide firm direction for city staff and work collaboratively with the Human Resources Department and labor groups.
• A leader with a backbone who will take a stand on principles and possess good communication skills.
• Be able to work with a wide variety of individuals and deal effectively with a broad range of personalities, but, above all, have integrity and be honest.
• No micro managers, but be able to manage multiple projects.
• A city manager to express the city's position on the groundwater lawsuit, "like captain of the ship."
• Be pro-public safety and hold the line on employee compensation increases.
What the City Council wants
• A city manager who is able to take an active part in the city's economic development.
• Someone who has confidence in city staff and good relations with city employee organizations.
• A leader who is able to make tough decisions, communicate well orally and written.
• Be confident in his or her own skills and knowledge, know who they are and work well with elected officials. Credibility, integrity and a great reputation are the most important personal qualities.
• Interacts well with city employees, and can delegate responsibility and authority but does not micro-manage.
• Experience working in California not that important.
• Knows employee benefit issues and understands HIPPA regulations.
- News-Sentinel staff
"It's reassuring to know we're on board with what the community thinks is important," Councilwoman Emily Howard said after Kristensen read the candidate profile comments at Tuesday's meeting.
In addition to accepting resumes, Kristensen will actively solicit applications from current and retired city managers.
"You have the right ingredients, now it's just getting the right people in," he said. "We will go after the kind of candidate the City Council wants."
But he cautioned the council Tuesday that there a fewer city manager prospects since members of the baby boomer generation - who have traditionally filled these positions - are retiring.
"It's a market seeing a lot of change," he said, quickly adding he was certain Lodi would find a suitable city manager.
Hansen plans to have the new council members elected in November help choose the final city manager. Council members Keith Land and Howard are not running for re-election, so there will be two new members.
Hansen, who hopes for a smooth transition between councils, also wants a citizen panel to be involved in the interview process. (It took seven months to put Flynn, then the finance director, in the manager position.)
Land, however, was concerned with the tight hiring schedule, approved Tuesday.
"If there's a need to re-do the time frame, I hope we can adjust," he said.
He and Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock also voiced worries that few would apply due to the city's ongoing contamination litigation issues and budget shortfalls - and because "the former city manager is on the council ballot," Hitchcock said.
Kristensen said, though unlikely, if there are not enough applicants come Oct. 15, the filing deadline will be extended. He believes the position will net 30 to 40 applicants from across the country.
Vice Mayor John Beckman also didn't want to narrow the field if the city required an applicant to have a bachelor's degree. Although an attorney, he doesn't have one.
Later in the meeting during public comments, calling Kristensen's plan "a good sales presentation," council candidate Steve Jarrett read a two-page written statement imploring council members to slow down in their quest to replace Flynn.
"It has only been 17 days since the city manager has resigned," he read. "Why the rush? I do not see the need, and I feel that it is not prudent or in the best interests of the citizens of Lodi."
Jarrett continued, even recommending the council put Keeter in the position for three years when, he said, the contamination lawsuit will be settled, the city's general plan updated and an improved budget.
Hansen took offense to the comments and reacted quickly.
"I consider this grandstanding. It is clear you are running for council, and you have somewhat declared yourself an expert (in hiring a new city manager)," he said.
Hansen also resented Jarrett's comments about integrity after a new council is seated.
"So this council does not have integrity?" the mayor questioned.
"No, not at this time," Jarrett answered.
Hansen said Jarrett's opinion on citizen confidence in the city is all about perspective.
"The city manager chose to leave. He was not forced out," Hansen said. "The people I talk to have confidence in the council."
City manager interview list
The following names were provided by three City Council members to CPS Executive Search, the head-hunter firm selected by Mayor Larry Hansen to recruit a new city manager.
- Source: City of Lodi