County manager search will stay in-house for now

Patrick Cates

Patrick Cates

The search for a new county manager will stay close to home, a majority of Douglas County commissioners decided on Thursday.

County Manager Patrick Cates is leaving his position effective June 5 after four years.

The board voted 3-2, with commissioners Walt Nowosad and Danny Tarkanian in the minority.

Acting County Human Relations Manager Christine Vido laid out the possibilities for the board that included an internal recruitment, opening the position up for anyone and hiring a search firm.

By far the swiftest solution would be to chose someone currently working for the county, which would require a weeklong posting followed by screening processes.

Tarkanian and Nowosad preferred to open the position to any qualified person, which Vido said would require a 30-day recruitment with 8-12 weeks to review applications before the candidates could be brought in for interviews.

No one thought going through a search firm was a good idea. Vido said that would cost the county up to $100,000.

“We don’t need someone to tell us who we should hire and not hire,” Tarkanian said.

Commissioner Sharla Hales asked if an internal recruitment would include the towns and general improvement districts.

Vido clarified that employees of the towns, as an entity of the county, could apply, but general improvement district employees could not since the districts are separate from the county.

“It is my opinion we need to stay in-house,” Commissioner Wes Rice said. “We have the talent who have been trained by our county manager to take over the position. We would do a disservice to our current employees if we went outside.”

Qualified candidates for the position would be interviewed on June 1. Should commissioners decide to hire an applicant then, the county would just need to refresh a background check, updating their criminal history.

Commissioners could always reject the internal candidates and then advertise the position to outsiders.

Genoa resident Dan Aynesworth said he agreed that the county has qualified candidates on staff and encouraged them to consider Assistant County Manager Jenifer Davidson.

“I think our assistant county manager has all the skills, knowledge and all the background,” he said.

Minden Town Board member and former East Fork Fire Chief Bill Driscoll said that in his 40 years he’s see a lot of county manager.

“We do not need to go outside,” he said. “I’ve see that process fail many times.”

Davidson, who served as Minden Town Manager before she was hired by the county, said that she’s interested in the job. She informed commissioners that she will be in Washington D.C. for a week to collect her masters degree, but she would be back by Memorial Day.

Hiring Cates was a job of work that started when County Manager Larry Werner announced he was terminating his contract in June 2018.

Commissioners appointed a committee to sort through candidates from all walks of life, only to have the committee reject all the candidates at the end of August 2018.

It took commissioners four months to recover from that process before offering the position to Genoa resident Tom Stone, who resigned after a week.

Cates was hired March 9, 2019.


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