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Mayor Sherman Saunders said Tuesday that the search for the next city manager will take as long as needed in order “to get it right.” All members of City Council, he said, will be involved in the process.
Saunders’ statements came during a work session called specifically to allow City Council to discuss the search. City Manager Joe King has announced he will retire Nov. 30.
“Of the many decisions we make, this (selection of a city manager) is among the chief that we make,” Saunders said at the outset of the meeting. “We will take as long as needed to get it right.”
To assist in the search, City Council plans to hire a search firm. Interested firms have until Sept. 30 to submit a proposal. Council will select a firm from among the proposals. The firm selected will be expected to design a recruiting effort and to conduct full background, effectiveness and performance assessments of the recommended candidates.
Council plans to solicit community input regarding the attributes wanted in a city manager. The list of attributes will be used to develop a candidate profile to guide the search firm.
Last night, Council members offered their own suggestions. The list included a background in successful economic development, understanding of public utilities, and knowledge of Virginia law.
The successful candidate would have a track record of progress in areas important to Danville, able to build and maintain partnerships with surrounding communities, and have an appreciation of the private sector.
Council members said they want a leader who would communicate closely with City Council, be open to new ideas, and be committed to transparency, accountability and customer service.
The successful candidate would be visible in the community, work closely with Danville Public Schools, and take steps to improve race relations.
Strong communication skills was a repeated theme with regard to both connecting with citizens and building employee morale.
Saunders has appointed Vice Mayor Gary Miller and Councilmen Alonzo Jones and Buddy Rawley to a committee that will lead the search process, which is expected to take several months to complete.
The committee plans to meet in October to review the proposals submitted by search firms. The firms with the best proposals then may be invited to an interview before the full Council.