Members of the Homer City Council interview candidate Rob Dumouchel for the job of city manager on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 via Zoom in Homer, Alaska. Top row from left to right: Council member Joey Evensen, Mayor Ken Castner, Council member Heath Smith. Middle row from left to right: Council members Donna Aderhold, Rachel Lord and Storm Hansen-Cavasos. Bottom row from left to right: Candidate Rob Dumouchel and Council member Caroline Venuti.

Members of the Homer City Council interview candidate Rob Dumouchel for the job of city manager on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 via Zoom in Homer, Alaska. Top row from left to right: Council member Joey Evensen, Mayor Ken Castner, Council member Heath Smith. Middle row from left to right: Council members Donna Aderhold, Rachel Lord and Storm Hansen-Cavasos. Bottom row from left to right: Candidate Rob Dumouchel and Council member Caroline Venuti.

Council offers city manager job to California candidate

The Homer City Council voted last week to offer the job of city manager to their last candidate standing: Rob Dumouchel, a government employee from Eureka, California.

Dumouchel was the only candidate the council invited back for a second interview, which took place via Zoom during a special meeting last Wednesday. This came after a previous telephone interview with the council and an interview via Zoom with the city’s City Manager Hiring Committee.

After their deliberation, members of the council made a motion to offer the job to Dumouchel, and there was no objection, which means it was a unanimous decision. If he accepts, he will take the place of Katie Koester, who left this spring for a job in the City and Borough of Juneau.

In the second interview, council members asked about Dumouchel’s experience with capital improvement projects, preparing budgets, employee benefits, and mediation or arbitration. They wanted to know about his management style and how he thought a city manager ought to communicate with the council he or she works with.

When asked about which avenues he thought would be best for Homer to pursue in terms of economic development, Dumouchel spoke of business retention in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just keeping existing businesses afloat will be important, he said. To further promote economic development, Dumouchel said the city could look into certain requirements that could be relaxed for developers to make it easier for them to do business amid the financial constraints of the pandemic.

Dumouchel is attracted to Homer, he said both because the city manager job aligns with his vocational goals and because the area itself is appealing. He likes coastal communities, and has lived in small communities in the past as well.

Council members were enthusiastic in their praise of Dumouchel when it came to the deliberation phase of the meeting after the interview.

“I am really not only super enthusiastic about our primary candidate, about Rob’s background, but also just the breadth of thought that he has, it seems, on a lot of the different challenges and opportunities that come with the position of a city manager,” said Council member Rachel Lord.

Council member Donna Aderhold commended the City Manager Hiring Committee for their work in their separate interview with Dumouchel. The committee’s recommendation about a candidate is something the council takes into consideration.

“They had some really good questions that I would not have thought of to ask,” Aderhold said. “And some very diverse questions that came from different parts of the city and community.”

Council members Heath Smith and Joey Evensen said they’ve been “nothing but impressed” with Dumouchel so far.

“It’s pretty clear that there’s been a clear, dedicated effort for him to prepare for this moment, and I think that he’s there,” Smith said. “He shows that he has the capacity, energy and attitude that really fit Homer.”

Evensen lauded Dumouchel’s educational background, particularly his experience in environmental sciences.

“I think that fits nicely in Homer with all of our natural resources and the importance of those resources for our community and our economy,” he said.

Council member Storm Hansen-Cavasos said she’s appreciated that Dumouchel has been kind, sure and calm. He’ll fit well with the council, she said.

Dumouchel served as a specialist in the U.S. Army in various locations from 2001-04, as a Korean Language Trained Signals Intelligence Analyst. From there, he became vice president of a systems and marketing company in Grover Beach, California from 2006-13.

He has associate’s degrees in liberal studies, recreation management and computer business information systems from Allan Hancock College in Santa Monica, California, as well as a Bachelor of Science in environmental management and protection, natural resources planning and a Master of Science in environmental and natural resource sciences from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.

Dumouchel entered public service as an assistant planner in the parks and recreation department of the City of Eureka, California in 2016, and he has served in several different positions with the city since then. Most recently he was the planning and building manager for the city’s public works department before becoming interim director of the development services department in March.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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