City leaders review 24 candidates for new city manager; finalists to be announced in coming weeks
photo by: Chris Conde
City leaders have started to narrow down a field of two dozen candidates for the position of city manager, and three finalists for the city’s top administrative job will be announced in coming weeks.
Instead of its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission held an approximately two-hour executive session to review applications for the city manager position. Following the session, Mayor Lisa Larsen said that 24 people applied, and that the commission had selected six people to continue to the interview stage.
Larsen told the Journal-World following the session that she’s impressed with the resumes of the six candidates, who she said checked off a lot of the boxes of what the city is looking for in its next city manager.
“I think we definitely have some very strong candidates,” Larsen said. “They are highly regarded in their field.”
The city hired California-based search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates to conduct a national search for Lawrence’s next city manager. Ralph Andersen & Associates previously held meetings with commissioners and community groups representing neighborhood associations, social services, businesses, development, education and city staff to gather input regarding what they would like to see in the next city manager.
The commission designated Larsen and Vice Mayor Jennifer Ananda, as they received the most votes in the most recent election, to take the lead in working with the search firm. Larsen said that the community feedback gathered by the firm was taken into consideration when determining the desired characteristics of the next city manager.
The firm created a three-page brochure for the position, which lists nine traits that will be essential for the city manager’s success. Those include being an accessible communicator, having a record of economic development success, valuing diversity and being willing to stay with the city for a significant amount of time.
City Manager Tom Markus, who began his position in March 2016, announced in September that he planned to retire this year. Markus has since said he will leave his position around June.
Larsen said that interviews with the six candidates will be conducted in a closed meeting on March 23, with an hour allotted for each candidate’s interview. She said that three finalists would be publicly announced the following week and that finalist interviews would be conducted in April.
As far as public involvement goes, Larsen said that there will be opportunities for the public to engage with each of the three finalists and that more details about that process would be announced March 19.