October 5, 1998
City manager search narrowed to 17
by Andrew Walgamott
WOODINVILLE--A field of 80-some candidates who have applied to be Woodinville's next city manager has been winnowed down to 17 semi-finalists: 16 men and 1 woman, according to a consultant working with the city.
Gary Hulbert of the Snohomish-based Hulbert and Associates says a new top administrator could be chosen by the end of the month.
Mayor Don Brocha termed the semi-finalists an "interesting mix" from across the U.S. who all have a background in public service. Though he would not comment on specific candidates, he said there were several managers for county agencies, as well as one state department head who have made the grade.
The field of 85 was divided into three groups: those who met and exceeded qualifications, those who met and those who didn't. Hulbert recommended the first group to the City Council.
The semi-finalists were then given a questionnaire with 17 questions to answer in essays and return by today (Oct. 5).
Hulbert described the questionnaire as "rigorous," saying it would force a decision on candidates whether they were serious about the job.
Examples of questions:
Asked what the questionnaire will tell about the candidates, Hulbert replied, "It will provide another dimension of the candidate from the standpoint of their thought process, sensitivity to diverse interests, and far more importantly, how the individual deals with problems and what their style is."
- Describe a professional conflict and how it was resolved;
- What is an effective relationship between the city and the community it serves;
- How can the "Northwest Woodlands" character be preserved;
- What approach would you bring to the budgeting process;
- How could a (hypothetical) increase in library fees be dealt with;
- How does this position fit in with your career goals;
He said answers would be checked with two of the applicants' superiors, peers and subordinates."This is not a light process," he added. It's a technique he said that's been used for 10 to 12 years for public sector recruiting. "Most folks don't realize how intensive this is ... It's done due to the visibility of the actions of the individual in the city manager's post," Hulbert said.
That person will also reflect on his firm. "The success of the candidate is tied to our success and reputation," he said.
Next, the Woodinville City Council will review questionnaires. On Oct. 12, the seven-member board is expected to further whittle the field to candidates they would like to interview.
Interim City Manager Jim Katica said that the community will get a chance to meet the applicants at a forum later this month.
Hulbert said a new manager should be chosen by late October or early November. "If we've done our job well, [picking one applicant] will be the most difficult decision the City Council will face all year," Hulbert said.
The council hired Hulbert after former city manager Roy Rainey was ousted by the council last June.
The city manager is a city's top post. He or she controls the day to day operations of the city and acts as the conduit between the City Council and municipal staff.
The next manager will also have an assistant rather than an assistant city manager, a job that is being reclassified in the 1999 budget.
Katica said doing so would save approximately $15,000 a year.