Council spars over ‘ideal candidate’: Redwood City recruiting city manager to replace Bob Bell

The search to find the “ideal candidate” to replace outgoing Redwood City Manager Bob Bell hit a slight snag as some on the council differed over whether the hiring process should allow recruits with only private-sector experience to apply for the job. Councilman Ian Bain took exception with a sentence in a recruiting brochure that reads: “Professionals with public and/or private sector management experience with strong local government knowledge and familiarity will also be considered.” He made his concerns known at Monday night’s council meeting after Human Resources Director Leah Lockhart presented a timeline as to when the council will likely start interviewing Bell’s replacement. “That language is troubling to me. This is a city that requires a professional city manager,” Bain said, according to a video of the meeting. But Mayor Jeff Gee and Vice Mayor Rosanne Foust said, according to the video, the city needed to cast a wide net to attract the right candidate in an extremely competitive market. Foust also pointed out that Bell’s experience in the private sector before being hired by the city in the Human Resources Department in 2005 suited him well for the job. “I’m glad we wrote the brochure the way we did. I’d like to keep it broad,” Foust said about the hiring process. Foust said it would be “strange” if a candidate with only private-sector experience even applied for the job. Gee said the candidate pool would become too small if the city narrowed its search. “We ultimately have the choice to say who is qualified,” Gee said. Gee even said one of the city’s own department heads may be qualified for the job. The city currently has two assistant city managers working under Bell including Audrey Ramberg and Aaron Aknin, who is also the city’s Community Development director. A list of qualified candidates is expected to be presented to the council by consultant Teri Black at its May 26 meeting. Two rounds of interviews will follow that and an appointment is expected to be made in July, Lockhart said. Lockhart said the recruiting process for city managers is “currently extremely competitive” in her report to the council Monday night. “This is largely due to demographic shifts and an improving economy, as an unprecedented number of baby boomers are retiring or moving on to other careers. As a result, a historically high number of vacancies among executive leadership positions in local government have emerged,” Lockhart wrote in her report. Current city manager opportunities in the state include Anaheim, Carlsbad, Los Gatos, Oceanside, Santa Monica and Watsonville, Lockhart wrote. The city is paying consultant Teri Black & Company, LLC $19,000 to find the city’s “ideal candidate.” Bell announced his retirement in February and has held the city manager’s position since 2010.

Bill Bell

bill@smdailyjournal.com (650) 344-5200 ext. 102 By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

Bob Bell

Photo Credit - The Daily Journal

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