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City Council members plan to narrow city manager choices to 5

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — A field of 70 applicants for the Salisbury city manager’s job has been narrowed to nine candidates, Mayor Paul Woodson said.
City Council considered nine resumés during a closed session Wednesday and will meet again in closed session at 10 a.m. Monday to choose five finalists, Woodson said.
“I really thought the quality of the applicants is really good, excellent,” he said.
The nine candidates form a diverse group of both men and women, some with many years of experience and others with less time on the job, Woodson said. About 60 percent are from North Carolina, he said.
Some are from smaller cities, while others are from cities larger than Salisbury, population 33,600.
The city’s recruitment firm, Richmond, Va.-based Springsted Incorporated, recruited and screened 70 applicants from 23 states. The city will pay Springsted $15,700 for the search.
“You have a very talented pool of applicants,” John Anzivino, senior vice president with Springsted, told the Council Wednesday. “I think that reflects well on the city of Salisbury and your reputation.”
Former City Manager David Treme retired after 25 years of service, an unusually long tenure for a city manager.
Council members must decide whether to interview the five finalists before or after the holidays, Woodson said.
Anzivino, who has conducted 100 searches for city managers and department heads in eight years, said the Council should avoid spreading the interviews out over too many days, making it harder to compare candidates.
He also said the finalists should tour of the city. Many candidates have commented on Salisbury’s downtown, calling it a model for other cities, he said.
“You want to show the folks Main Street, but you also want to show the candidates where some of your challenges are, as well,” Anzivino said.
Mayor Pro Tem Susan Kluttz said she was impressed with what she saw Wednesday.
“We have a very high calibre of people who have applied,” Kluttz said, due in large part to the city’s excellent reputation. “I’m very confident we will have the right person in place when we complete this process.”
Council member Maggie Blackwell said she felt it was premature to comment on the candidates and said all council members are taking the job of hiring the next city manager seriously.
“I think we are all very aware of the responsibility to make this decision,” she said.
Council member Brian Miller said he’s looking forward to the process moving forward. Council member William “Pete” Kennedy said he had no comment.
Once the city identifies the finalists, “we will assist to get them here and be here for interviews, but we will not participate,” Anzivino said.
Interviews should last between 60 and 75 minutes and include about 20 questions, Anzivino said. The firm will provide a list of draft questions and assist with lining up interviews and tours of the city.
The firm will help the Council assess the finalists after their interviews, offering “any observations on candidates’ responses,” he said.
Woodson said the Council is in no rush and has no deadline in mind because of the competence of interim City Manager Doug Paris.
“We are absolutely not worried about that,” he said. ”Doug is handling things quite well. He has stepped up to the plate and is keeping us tremendously well-informed and handling the daily issues of running the city.”
Because of Fibrant, the city’s new broadband fiber optic utility, Salisbury needs a city manager with unique talents, Woodson said. The right candidate will be ready to generate revenue and growth with Fibrant, he said.
“That’s going to take some special care,” he said.
The Council does not plan to make public the names of the finalists to avoid putting their current jobs in jeopardy, Woodson said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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