The Lawrence City Commission, striving for an above-board search for a permanent city manager, took steps Tuesday to prevent any favoritism toward Acting City Manager Mike Wildgen.
Wildgen, who served as Lawrence's assistant city manager for 15 years and was named acting city manager in October after the death of Buford Watson, indicated that he will be a candidate for the permanent position, Mayor Bob Schumm said Tuesday night.
With that news in hand, the commission unanimously accepted a proposal from Schumm directing the city's search coordinator to refrain from contacting Wildgen, except in dealing with him as an applicant.
BOB SAUNDERS, hired a week ago to assist the commission in its search for a permanent city manager, had made some of his initial communications with the commission through Wildgen. But those communications will cease, Schumm said.
"Bob should not have any contact with (Wildgen) other than as an applicant for the position," Schumm said. "Study sessions, correspondence and information questions that Bob has should be directed through and to the mayor and city commission, and, if needed, Jerry Cooley, city attorney."
Schumm said the reason for his proposal was one of propriety.
"This needs to be done in a very straightforward, fair, positive form for everyone," the mayor said.
AFTER TUESDAY'S commission meeting, Wildgen confirmed his intent to become a candidate but declined to answer other questions about his candidacy. Any comments about his interest in the job, he said, would be directed to the commission if he is granted an interview.
Wildgen thus becomes the first person to publicly express his interest in the city manager's post. Meanwhile, another city hall employee mentioned as a possible candidate ruled out applying for the post.
Price Banks, planning director, said today he was happy with his current position.
"If invited, I will not apply. If appointed, I will not serve," Banks said.
A third city hall employee, Community Developement Director Lynn Goodell, did not rule out his interest in the post. Goodell said today that he had considered applying for the position, but will wait until the commission announces the formal procedures for accepting applications before he makes his decision.
THE COMMISSION is expected to meet with Saunders in January to begin the search process, which will involve developing criteria, placing advertisements and establishing application procedures.
Schumm said he already has received a few inquiries from people interested in the position. Those materials will be forwarded to Saunders.
The mayor also said that Saunders has prepared an advertisement to be included in the next issue of the ICMA Journal, the International City Managers Assn.'s newsletter.
"It's fairly generic in content," Schumm said of the ad, "and it indicates our interest in soliciting for a city manager."