By Seth Schmidt
Tracy City Council members are one step closer to finding and hiring a new city administrator.
Monday, the council agreed on a format for interviewing finalists. All five council members will meet with the candidates in a closed session, council members decided. Who those finalists are and when the council will interview them remains undecided.
Council members indicated that they would contact consultant Wendell Sande next week, to ask whether he has identified a group of qualified candidates who would be a good fit for Tracy. If so, the council will then set up a time for interviews.
The entire council interviewing finalists in a closed session would be a departure from the process used the last three times Tracy has had a city administrator vacancy.
After Audrey Koopman retired in 2011, the entire council interviewed the finalists in a public meeting, all on the same night. The council adjourned for a closed meeting before reconvening the public meeting to announce their selection of Roger Gorius.
A similar public process was used in 2013 when Mike Votca was hired to succeed Gorius.
When Madonna Peterson was chosen to succeed Votca in December of 2016, a committee comprised of two council members and several citizens conducted interviews and made a recommendation to the full council.
A hiring timeline proposed by Sande sets a late May target for hiring a new administrator, with the goal of having the new person on the job by mid-June. Public Works Director Shane Daniels has been serving as the interim administrator since September.
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Council member Jeri Schons expressed that she liked the idea of the full-council meeting with the candidates, rather than a committee that included only selected council members. Having the meetings in a non-public forum, she felt, might make it “easier to have a conversation” and get to know the candidate. However, she felt the council must base their decision on more than the first meeting because it is not that difficult for many people to “glow” at an interview.
Councilman Tony Peterson said that he didn’t have a strong opinion on whether the interviews should be public or private, but said that the council could have a closed session to meet with the finalists if that was their desire. Peterson felt that the process of interviewing applicants in front of the full council, in a public meeting, with other candidates sometimes present, had been “awkward.”