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Council changes approach to search for city manager

Salisbury City Council announced after Tuesday’s meeting it will not hold an assessment center for candidates for the city manager position.

After coming out of closed session, council issued a statement saying they will conduct interviews with candidates in closed sessions and not hold the assessment center, which was part of the original plan.

Mayor Paul Woodson said the reason for the change is that some of the top candidates said they won’t do the assessment center due to concerns about confidentiality.

Woodson said the candidates are concerned because they currently hold jobs in local government.

“Basically, what I’m saying is these candidates are not going to talk to us if they have to go through the assessment process because they’ve got positions,” he said.

The assessment center would have been conducted by Developmental Associates, the firm hired by the city to aid in the search for a new city manager. According to the firm’s website, “… an assessment center puts candidates through a series of group and individual exercises designed to simulate the conditions of a given job and determines if they have the skills and abilities necessary to perform that job.”

Woodson said council will meet Friday at 2:30 p.m. to continue the search. He said council will continue to review applicants and might conduct interviews Friday. He added that council continues to be in no hurry to finish the search.

In early January, Woodson said council had whittled down the number of potential candidates to six or seven, and the the assessment center was set for the end of January. But before the time came, council decided to extend its search and start reviewing more applicants.

A citizen review panel was supposed to be part of the assessment center, but Woodson said it will no longer take place due to concerns about confidentiality.

Tuesday’s full statement from council:

“We are moving forward with the city manager selection process and have several strong candidates who are currently serving as managers in local government. Council has been assessing these applicants and due to the request for confidentiality by some of these top candidates, council has decided to take a direct approach and hold closed-session interviews rather than an assessment center. We are looking forward to sharing more information as we progress.”

Contact Reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.

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