Top three manager candidates to visit Kent

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

A reception will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Kent City Council Chambers. Two city managers are from towns in the North Central U.S. and the other hails from a town in the Midwest.

Council will interview the prospects in executive session at 8 a.m. Saturday. Robert Felton, chairman of council's committee of the whole, said the interviews will be held behind closed doors on the advice of Law Director James Silver.

Their names and background information are expected to be released later this week.

Council selected its top three after receiving thumbnail sketches of 10 contenders from Thomas Dority of the Mercer Group, the city's search firm.

Council members presented their vote totals to Felton. They were then tabulated and submitted to Dority so he could investigate their backgrounds.

Dority said he was asked to check the backgrounds of three candidates who drew the most votes from council.

Three second tier candidates were on a longer list, and Dority would have checked their backgrounds if any of the top three dropped out or if a background check turned up negative. That wasn't the case, however, he said.

"All the background and references were very positive and very strong."

City manager hopefuls include:

Candidate C, a city manager of a town in the North Central region with 10,000 residents.

Candidate D, a city manager of a town in the North Central region also with 10,000 residents.

Candidate "F," a city manager of a town of 14,800 residents in the Midwest.

Candidates in the second tier include a city manager in the Northeast who graduated from Kent State University and has family nearby; a city manager of a town in the North Central region who worked to clean up a brownfield site downtown; and an assistant city manager/acting city manager in the Midwest.

Dority said candidate D received nine votes, candidate C received eight and candidate F received four. The second tier candidates each received three votes.

However, he stressed this does not mean there is a front-runner, adding no firm decisions have been made.

"All bets are off until after the interviews," he said.

Councilwoman Carol Neff, however, is raising concerns that a written tabulation of how many votes each candidate received has not yet been placed on file.

Neff said she addressed a memo to Felton about her concerns. In it, she refers to the request she made Aug. 13. Mayor Jerry Fiala had said once the results were tabulated, they would be placed on file.

"That is not privileged information," she said. "It's something all council members should have."

Felton said all council members would have the information in time for the next meeting. But he said he was surprised by the memo.

"Council members could have just asked for it at the meeting," he said. "It's a non-issue."

Dority said all candidates passed a thorough background check, which included interviews with their mayors, staff members and others. Their educational backgrounds were verified, and each passed a criminal records check by Kent police. All are still interested in the job, he added.

"Some of them have already asked for documents on the city," he said.

He plans to have a booklet of information on the candidates ready early this week, and the information is expected to arrive at council offices on Wednesday.

He said the information is released close to the interview date to protect the candidates' confidentiality.

"It's a little better for the candidate in his home town not to have his confidentiality exposed until he's ready to interview," he said. "The background checks already start to stir things up."

Felton previously stated he believed a candidate might be selected at

the close of interviews. But he said a typical council is rarely

prepared to make a decision until members have had a chance to compare

notes and think about the candidates. Contract negotiations would also

need to be made before a city manager is hired.

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