Council still looking for new city manager

March 12, 2015: This story has been corrected to note the corrected dates when the Homer City Council reviews city manager applicants. The council meets at 5 p.m. March 17 to review applicants, with interviews tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. March 24 if anyone applies.

As the Homer city manager applicant list went from 59 total applicants to four semifinalists to two finalists, by Monday the Homer City Council ran out of choices.

Last Friday, Jeffery Trinker, the Rosenberg, Texas, applicant it had conditionally offered the job to, withdrew his name from consideration. On Sunday, Public Works Director Carey Meyer also withdrew his name.

“That leaves us with zero applicants,” Homer Mayor Beth Wythe said at a special meeting of the council.

The council had planned to discuss salary terms for Trinker, but after he and Meyer both withdrew, it went back to where the council had been last fall when former City Manager Walt Wrede announced his resignation. On a motion by council member Gus VanDyke, and with council member Beau Burgess voting no, it reopened the application process, but for a one-week period, for in-house, city employees only.

“I believe that there may be at least one if not two qualified personnel who work for the city now who would do an excellent job as city manager,” VanDyke said on Tuesday. “That’s why I said, ‘Let’s do it quickly, one week.’”

VanDyke served on a City Manager Selection Committee with Wythe and council members Bryan Zak and Francie Roberts. In an executive meeting on Jan. 28, the selection committee modified its list to four, including Trinker and Meyer. One, Chris Johnson, of Anacortes, Wash., took another job and withdrew after telephonic interviews, and the council eliminated Douglas Isaacson of North Pole. The council interviewed Trinker and Meyer on March 3 and in a 5-1 vote, offered Trinker the job. A motion by council member David Lewis to offer the job to Meyer died for a lack of a second.

Friday, Trinker withdrew his name from consideration, citing the lack of consensus. 

“It is imperative for the harmony of the community that there be consensus as to the candidate selected for this very important position,” Trinker wrote in a letter to the council.

Following Trinker’s notice, Meyer also withdrew. “For a candidate to be successful and take pleasure in ultimately carrying out the duties of City Manager, and for the council to have benefit from and satisfaction with the relationship, the council’s level of confidence in the candidate needs to be higher than that expressed in me during the selection process,” Meyer wrote in a letter to the city.

The council also voted to disband the City Manager Selection Committee, with the full council now tasked with reviewing applicants. The in-house application period ends at 5 p.m. March 16. The council meets at 5 p.m. March 17 to review applicants, with interviews tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. March 24 if anyone applies. If there are no in-house candidates, the council on March 17 would consider how to reopen the process.

In comments at the end of the regular council meeting, Roberts said she had thought about how the council deliberated in public on Trinker and Meyer.

“It was an extremely difficult thing to do in public,” she said. “I think there’s a place where the council should be deliberating privately. … I would like to think we have to think about this process as we move forward.”

Burgess said he understood Roberts’ point, but that public discussion is part of the cost of government.

“There is a cost to transparency. That cost is the ability to invite people into the process and provide them a framework to do so,” he said. “Is it a bad thing? No.”