The Merced City Council is set to do six interviews for the next city manager on Saturday, according to city staff, all of which will take place behind closed doors.
A forum earlier in the week collected the opinions of anyone willing to say what experience and traits they want to see in the next top administrator, who will likely be the highest paid public employee in the city.
The members of the council who attended the meeting said the topics brought up by residents are common topics year round – public safety, economic development and homelessness. They also agreed the candidates need to have a proven track record.
“The biggest issue for Merced is economic development,” Councilman Michael Belluomini said. “For me, I’m looking for someone who has experience in economic development.”
He said Merced is “at a crossroads,” because the council is looking for the top administrator and will immediately move next to finding a new city attorney.
The Merced City Manager page on Facebook has gathered comments from residents. Communities for a New California Education Fund, a nonprofit that aims to provide public education on policy issues relevant to rural communities, also collected comments on Twitter.
The biggest issue for Merced is economic development
Merced Councilman Michael Belluomini
Another official at the forum, Councilman Tony Dossetti, noted input from one resident at the forum who said the candidate should be able to explain the difference between leadership and management styles. Not every official is good at both, the resident said.
“I think that not many people know that there’s a difference,” Dossetti said.
The winning candidate needs to show the ability to come up with new ideas and embrace Merced, he said.
Some members of the council said there will likely be a second wave of interviews after a few of the candidates set themselves apart this weekend.
Mayor Pro Tem Josh Pedrozo, who attended the forum, said the successful candidate should be able to work with a diverse council.
He said picking the right city manager could go a long way to keeping the city off of lists where it ranks poorly for health and violence. “We got to turn that negative perception around,” he said. “It’s going to take someone coming in to really do that.”
He said he was unsure if a second round would be necessary but noted the council did two rounds of interviews before hiring the city attorney.
6The number of candidate interviews
Councilman Mike Murphy, who was also at the forum, said the city manager must be someone who will interact with the community and has a vision. “(We need) a dynamic leader who can take best practices from other places and really sees Merced as a place with a lot of potential,” he said.
City Manager John Bramble has said he will retire after Dec. 5, but the city expects to contract with him on a temporary basis until the next administrator can move into the job. He makes $175,086 a year.
The forum on Monday was conducted by Gary Phillips, a member of consulting firm Bob Murray and Associates. The forum increased the amount the city paid to the firm by $1,500, for a total of $19,000 plus expenses, according to the contract.
The city is working with the same consulting firm to hire the next city attorney, because Randolph Hom intends to leave Merced after Dec. 20 for a similar position in Cupertino.