Affion Public discusses city manager search with council

Monday, November 29, 2010 | 8:56 p.m. CST; updated 10:37 p.m. CST, Monday, November 29, 2010

COLUMBIA — At a work session Monday evening, the Columbia City Council met with Affion Public, the headhunting firm hired Nov. 15 to find the new city manager. City Manager Bill Watkins will retire in March.

WHAT HAPPENED: Scott Reilly, CEO of the company and point person for the search, spoke to the council about the timetable of the project and echoed previous sentiments of ongoing communication and flexibility.

Reilly will be in Columbia until Thursday, and he said he has 66 interviews set up until then. He will be meeting with members of the council, city employees and MU officials to gather general information about Columbia and what they would like to see in a new city manager.

TIMETABLE: Reilly said that after gathering information from the in-person interviews, he and his team will create two profiles: one to describe the ideal candidate and one for the position. Ideally, he said, the profiles will be done by Dec. 10, sent to the members of the council and returned with any changes or concerns by Dec. 17. He said it's important for the council to be in agreement on what the position entails.

After this, the job opening will be made public on different websites, such as the International City/County Management Association.

After the profiles are finished and the position is made available, Reilly said Affion Public would need about 45 days to recruit. This puts them at the end of January, at which point a small group of candidates will be selected by Affion Public. The council will interview these candidates as a whole, then in smaller groups. The candidates will also get a chance to see how the council operates.

Reilly said the candidates will have the chance to meet city staff. He noted that each candidate will have to consider those he or she would work for and those who would work for him or her.

Reilly said that the council also needs to consider what sort of forums will be scheduled for the candidates and city staff or the public. He suggested a meet-and-greet format or a town hall meeting. The particulars, he finished, can be figured out later.

COMMENTS: Reilly repeated himself from previous meetings that there would be "no surprises" throughout the process. 

The council began a discussion about what sort of public forum might be held, but no decisions were made to this point.

Mayor Bob McDavid suggested that the council would have "more questions as we go along."

Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley asked if Affion Public would provide reasons why certain candidates are not chosen, and Reilly said they typically don't do that. He reminded the council that the candidates that they do present will all be capable and confident about the job.

"This is kind of what we do for a living," he said.

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