The list of those vying to be Hendersonville’s first permanent city administrator has been narrowed down to five, according to Dave LeMarbre who currently holds the position on an interim basis.
The list will be narrowed down further before it’s made public who the final candidates are, LeMarbre added.
The city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted in 2019 to create the position that will handle many of the city’s day-to-day operations previously handled by the mayor. The 7 to 6 vote was a controversial one.
Some – including supporters of current Mayor Jamie Clary – argued that citizens, and not seven board members, should decide who runs the city. Those who voted for the change argued that a trained professional who answers to the full 13-member BOMA was best suited to manage a city of Hendersonville’s size and budget.
Board members appointed LeMarbre, the city’s former parks director, to the interim position in November.
LeMarbre has said he wants to keep the city’s political strife out of the process of filling the newly created position.
The city received 24 applications by the Jan. 31 deadline. Half of those who applied were almost immediately eliminated by human resources personnel because they didn’t meet the minimum qualifications, according to LeMarbre. Another candidate withdrew her name from consideration.
A committee that included Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) advisor Gary Jaeckel, Goodlettsville City Manager Tim Ellis, White House City Administrator Gerald Herman, Interim Human Resources Manager Chris Taylor and citizens Rick Fox and Rita Lea met on Feb. 27 and narrowed the list to five. The meeting was not open to the public.
LeMarbre said that Taylor is checking with the five candidates chosen by the committee to see if they are still interested in the position. Those who are will be asked to complete further testing by MTAS. The committee will then meet again to narrow the list to two or three candidates – perhaps by interviewing the candidates via teleconference.
The full Board of Mayor and Aldermen will publicly interview the two or three candidates chosen by the committee in late March or early April, LeMarbre added.
The Hendersonville Standard obtained the resumes of all of the applicants on Feb. 28 - three-and-a-half weeks after a public records request was submitted.
Both LeMarbre and City Attorney John Bradley said during a BOMA meeting on Feb. 25 that the city didn’t want to release the names until the committee met. They also attributed the delay to the amount of time they said it took to redact certain personal information. The resumes received contained few redactions - addresses and telephone numbers.
The candidates include:
A county administrator from Mississippi; a chief of staff for a city council in Wisconsin; a former city manager from Ohio; a police chief from Kansas; a chief administrative officer for a mayor in Alabama; a deputy city manager from a city larger than Hendersonville in Virginia; a chief of staff for a city manager in a large city in Florida; an interim village manager in Illinois; a city manager from a small East Tennessee town; the chief executive and administrative officer for a Pennsylvania city of similar size and budget to Hendersonville; and a town manager for a small town in North Carolina with a budget about one-fourth the size of Hendersonville’s.
One woman and one professional who is currently working in Tennessee are among the 11 candidates. None of the candidates are former or current Hendersonville employees, nor are any of the candidates current or former Hendersonville elected officials.
The city advertised the position in several national publications and websites seen by city managers and city administrators from across the country.
Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in public administration or business administration and 10 years’ experience in municipal government including five years of administrative and supervisory experience, according to the ad.
The applicant must be a member in good standing of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and must be an ICMA credentialed manager or receive those credentials within two years of employment. The salary range is $130,000 to $150,000 with salary starting in the minimum and midpoint range.