City explains process for search for new Shoreline City Manager

Monday, January 24, 2011

The City of Shoreline is currently in search for a new City Manager to replace Bob Olander, who retires February 23. Interviews of the three finalists were conducted Sunday and the Council is expected to be in Executive Session Monday evening to discuss the interviews.  

The finalists are Brian Wilson, Police Chief in Federal Way; Julie Underwood, Assistant City Manager in Shoreline; and Larry Bauman, City Manager of Snohomish.

Critics have questioned why the interviews and discussion were not conducted in public, why Prothman was selected as the search firm, and why a nation-wide search was not conducted - all three finalists are from Puget Sound.

The City has issued the following press release, explaining the process decided upon and being followed by the City Council:

For the past 19 weeks, the City has been engaged in a recruitment process for hiring the next city manager. In August 2010, current Shoreline City Manager Robert Olander announced that he would retire on February 23, 2011. Mr. Olander has been the City Manager for Shoreline since 2006 and has been in city government for over 30 years.

One of the most important decisions the Shoreline City Council can make is the hiring of a new City Manager. The City Manager is responsible for implementing the City Council’s policies and running the day-to-day business of the City. Councilmembers have been involved extensively throughout the current recruitment process.

When the City Council learned of Mr. Olander’s retirement, the Councilmembers considered several options for how to fill the position. Options included conducting just an internal recruitment, having the City advertise and recruit for the position, or hiring a professional recruiter to do an exhaustive regional search. The Council chose the latter. Councilmembers believed that it was important to conduct a broad search to find the best possible candidates for such an important position.

The City requested bids from executive recruiting firms and received two. After a thorough review and evaluation of the two bids, the Council chose Prothman. Prothman has extensive experience as an executive search firm for local governments in the Pacific Northwest and has recruited for the City of Shoreline in the past.

Once Council selected Prothman, Councilmembers began work on developing a position description, a profile of the ideal candidate, and the criteria to be used in recruitment. Councilmembers sought input from their constituents on what they wanted to see in a City Manager and used the City’s 2029 Vision Statement as a guide in determining what to look for in a City Manager. Hundreds of Shoreline citizens participated in the development of the 2029 Vision. Sifting through such citizen input was instrumental in developing the position description and the candidate profile.

Once the Council had developed the criteria and approved the position description, Prothman advertised the opportunity across the entire western United States for approximately two months. Prothman also posted the announcement on numerous websites and in trade publications, and distributed it through city associations to every city in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. In addition, announcements were mailed directly to more then 900 city administrators and city managers in sixteen western states.

Prothman received 50 application packages. Nine applicants were screened out by the recruiter because their applications were incomplete or non-responsive. The remaining 41 complete application packages came from 15 states, nineteen of which came from applicants in Washington. Each candidate submitted a resume, an application, and answers to supplemental questions about how well they would fit with the Shoreline City Manager position.

All seven Shoreline City Councilmembers reviewed all of the applications. Out of the 41 applicants, the Council identified thirteen semifinalists for interviews. Prothman conducted phone interviews of the semifinalists and briefed Council on the results. Based on the interviews and additional information requested from the candidates, the city council narrowed the search to three candidates. who advanced to final interviews with the city council. Before the final interviews, Prothman conducted professional background checks on all three finalists and did extensive telephone reference checks with over half a dozen references for each candidate.

The City Council interviewed the three finalists during an executive session held on Sunday, January 23. In addition to the Council interview, members of the City’s Leadership Team, comprised of the department directors, conducted a panel interview and presented their findings to the Council.

Prothman has kept the City Council informed throughout the process and so far the Council has met as a body on five different occasions to work together on recruiting the next City Manager.


Anonymous,  January 26, 2011 at 5:13 PM  

The council met as a body on five different occasions on the search in SECRET. They never asked the public for any input whatsoever.

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