Next week, the City Council will begin interviewing five candidates to be Albany’s next city manager. I know three of those competing and have spoken with one other. Based on their resumes and what I know of the candidates, I think the next manager will have the education, experience, and temperament to do the job well. I have my own bias about who I believe would be the best choice, but I do not think any of the candidates would be unqualified.
The plan is for the Council to interview the five semifinalists Friday, March 24, and then invite back a smaller number to be interviewed by a citizen advisory group, City Department Directors, and the Council. This process is very similar to the one I went through before I was hired in 2005. Employees and the public will have a chance to meet the finalists at a City Hall reception on April 3. Final background checks and contract negotiations can take some time, but there should be no problem having someone hired before I leave on June 30.
The new city manager will inherit their share of challenges, just as I did a dozen years ago. I had two department directors resign in my first three months and another leave about a year later. We have several upcoming director retirements, so the turnover may be even higher for the new manager. I would expect there to be a younger, more diverse management team by this time next year. Despite the inevitable changes, whoever is lucky enough to get this job will be working with a great group of people.
Albany has been fortunate to have good leadership at the Council level, many great volunteers, and employees who genuinely care about their community. Our mission and values focus on service, and I have more stories than anyone would be willing to listen to about employees going beyond expectations to serve others. I think the new manager will bring many new opportunities for constructive change, but I hope the commitment to service I found when I arrived here remains constant.
New management understandably creates both uncertainty and anxiety; however, I think the upcoming change will be healthy for all concerned. The new manager will bring new energy, insight, and skills to tackle problems and create opportunities. Most city managers also understand that their first responsibility is to carry out the will of an elected city council. Managers bring ideas to the table, but important policy decisions require the approval of a majority of the council.
I see an important new role for myself as a full-time grandfather after the new manager is hired. I will certainly be happy to answer questions, but I plan to follow Steve Bryant’s example and let the new manager do the job s/he was selected to do without worrying about her/his predecessor. I’m sure the community will be in good hands.