The City of Johnson City has narrowed its search for a new city manager to five finalists, following a national search led by Strategic Government Resources (SGR) out of Keller, Texas. A series of interviews and forums with the five candidates under consideration for the position were set to be conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week
The five finalists are:
• Cathy Ball, assistant city manager of Asheville, N.C.
• Sarah Hannah-Spurlock, nighttime economy manager of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• David Johnston, former city manager of Covington, Ky.
• Chris Lindsey, assistant city manager of Westminster, Colo.
• David Strahl, interim village manager of Schiller Park, Ill.
Additional information about the candidates can be found at www.johnsoncitytn.org/managersearch.
The city manager, who is appointed by the City Commission, serves as the chief administrative officer, managing day-to-day operations in accordance with policies and procedures set forth by the Board. Current City Manager Pete Peterson announced in March his plans to retire at the end of the year after more than 30 years of service with the City of Johnson City. SGR was hired by the Board of Commissioners to lead a nationwide search for his successor.
“The recruitment process has been thorough and timely and has generated a number of quality candidates,” said Mayor Joe Wise. “We are excited to continue the process with these five and show them all that Johnson City has to offer.”
The Board hopes to have a new manager under contract by the end of October.
The Board of Commissioners made the decision back on May 6 to enter into a contract with SGR to conduct a national search on behalf of the city. At that time, Commissioner Aaron Murphy gave voice to concerns he heard within the community about hiring an outside firm to identify and recruit candidates for the position.
Wise pointed out this is not the first time a search firm has been utilized by the commission, and he said there are two good reasons for doing so. First off, Wise said the strongest candidates for the position were not likely looking to change jobs, so they had to be singled out and recruited.
“The candidate we want isn’t sending resumes every time a position is listed; the candidate we want is happily going to work with their eye on the objectives of their current employer,” Wise said.
Secondly, Wise argued that the City’s human resources department – which has three employees – isn’t equipped to handle a national job search, and the commission could not get involved in preliminary discussions due to sunshine laws.
“The minute the full commission gets involved in any of those conversations, that becomes a matter of public record, and you’re going to spook people you’re talking to,” Wise said. “The last thing that you want is people picking up their hometown newspaper and seeing they’re a candidate for City Manager in Johnson City.”