In preparation for picking the next city manager, the Columbia City Council and the firm it hired, CPS HR Consulting, solicited and got plenty of feedback from the public before it settled on Interim City Manager John Glascock and Racine, Wisconsin, City Administrator Jim Palenick as its finalists.
CPS HR recruiter Andrew Nelson directed a public meeting in February, asking attendees questions about what they would like to see in a potential candidate. The meeting yielded about 20 people and was livestreamed on the city’s website.
Residents shared different visions of a city manager. Many said they would like a candidate who would embrace diversity, connect the community, had experience with budgeting and would work to reinforce the importance of community policing.
The firm also created a citizen survey that asked multiple questions about crucial leadership qualities, what the candidate could introduce or embrace to better serve the city, duties the city manager should be able to navigate, what’s important to understand and what they shouldn’t underestimate about Columbia.
The survey was available for three weeks and was distributed in both a web-based and paper format. There were more than 500 responses, nearly all online. The results were never publicized, however. The Missourian got them through a records request on Friday morning.
CPS HR noted that 158 of the surveys were submitted under the same IP address with “similar rankings.” It said, however, that could be attributed in part to respondents using public computers. Under the survey’s professional content rankings, the firm added a column adjusting for the repeat addresses.
Comments from the surveys had similar themes as those heard at the February meeting. Respondents placed the highest importance on finding candidates with experience working through challenges facing Columbia, such as community policing, public safety, transportation and infrastructure.
Respondents’ written feedback predominately focused on honesty, diversity, financial leadership, accountability and inclusivity. Several commenters asked the City Council to consider candidates reflecting diversity.
CPS HR said in the report that the feedback was used for “in creating the recruitment marketing materials, recruiting of potential applicants, and screening of candidates.”