County forays back into manager search
September 8, 2018
In light of a vote of no confidence by a citizens panel that interviewed 11 county manager candidates, county commissioners decided to try again using a different process.
The results of last week's interviews in which no candidates were recommended by a panel of 10 residents, led commissioners to tweak the job description to include that some public administration experience is preferred.
The county also instructed Human Resources Director Wendy Lang to hire a search firm to supplement the hunt.
The new job description will be posted to the county's web site and advertised, they decided on Thursday.
Commissioner Barry Penzel argued that the committee's action could be in violation of the open meeting law, saying zero is not a number.
He called out panelist Dave Brady for leading the search committee toward its 6-4 vote and said he wanted to call the committee back into session to provide a candidate.
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Brady fired back that Penzel was backing a particular candidate.
"I take exception that I hijacked the process," Brady said. "The committee did what they had to do."
The other four commissioners thanked the members of the panel.
"I believe the panel did an admirable job," Commissioner Nancy McDermid said. She indicated she wasn't against hiring a search firm to take some of the pressure of Human Resources.
"Hiring a search company doesn't preclude any of the other candidates from applying," she said.
But McDermid did close the loophole the panel went through to recommend none of the candidates by specifying they should select three when they reconvene.
Commissioner Dave Nelson said the process showed him that candidates should have some governmental experience.
"Private industry and government are not the same," he said. "You need someone who has shown an interest in public administration. None of these 11 candidates had any of that."
Nelson said he felt the panel did its job.
"I won't chastise anybody on that group," he said. "I'm glad this committee did what it did. Human Resources did what they were told to do and we ended up in a bad position."
Commissioner Steve Thaler disagreed with Penzel on whether zero is a number.
"Zero is a number, but it's not a good number," he said. "I wonder why anyone would come to work for us. We're difficult to deal with."
Thaler who was defeated in the primary by Chambers Field resident John Engels said he didn't think the county manager would be hired while he was still on the board.
"I'm not opposed to a headhunter to help find someone who thinks they want to work here," he said. "I want a manager who wants to work here and who want to take on the challenges in Douglas County. There are five of them sitting up here right now."