Portland city manager search committee gets to work

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PORTLAND — The committee assigned to find a new city manager plans to follow an aggressive timetable, with the goal of having Joseph Gray’s replacement hired by July.

City Councilors Cheryl Leeman, John Anton and Jill Duson sit on the search committee. Leeman, the chairwoman, said that starting this week the committee will meet every Tuesday at noon at City Hall.

Its first goal is to put out a request for proposals from search firms interested in being part of the process. Mayor Nick Mavodones created an outline for the search process that suggests having a recommendation for a search firm to the full council by the beginning of February.

“The schedule is aggressive, but I think it can be done,” Mavodones said. “This is one the the most important things a city council does.”

Gray, who has been city manager for 10 years and worked for the city for more than 40 years, announced his retirement in December. His last day will be Feb. 11.

Mavodones said the search firm, working with the committee and the city’s human resources director, will come up with a brochure promoting the city and also with a list of qualities and qualifications candidates should possess.

“You’re selling yourself to these candidates as much as they are to you,” the mayor said.

The search will be conducted nationally and Mavodones said he expects a lot of interest, given the city’s attractiveness and inclusion on many “best of” lists in national publications.

It is unclear how much the city will pay for help with the search. Mavodones said that will become predictable after the search firms make their proposals.

He said he expects an advertisement for the position to be posted at the beginning of March, with resumes likely by the beginning of April. Leeman said she thought a job advertisement could go out immediately from the city’s Human Resources Department, rather than waiting for the search firm’s input.

The consultants will also help weed through the initial resumes, so the committee has a manageable number to review.

“They’ll narrow them down based on our wants and needs,” Mavodones said.

Interviews by the committee would initially happen in April, with a second round in May. Mavodones said any councilor will be welcome to help with the resume review process, but they must commit to reviewing all of the applicants with the committee.

The full council will ultimately decide who to hire. Mavodones said he hopes that happens by summer.

“Our goal is to have someone in place in the first part of July,” he said.

Until then, assistant City Manager Pat Finnigan will be the interim manager.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net