DOVER — Following the resignation of City Manager Randy E. Robertson in late May, City Council voted Tuesday to form a committee tasked with advising the council on how to conduct the search for a replacement.
The committee will recommend whether to use an outside firm or to conduct the search in-house.
Depending on what the council approves, the committee also could be responsible for finding a new city manager.
Additionally, council members approved a motion made by Councilman William Hare — with eight in favor and Councilman Matthew Lindell opposed — permitting President Roy Sudler to select the committee’s members.
Councilman Sudler’s nominations were Councilwoman Tricia Arndt, Councilman Andre Boggerty, Councilman Hare, Councilman Gerald Rocha, Mayor Robin Christiansen and Human Resource Director Kim Hawkins.
Members then unanimously approved forwarding Councilman Sudler’s recommendations to their July 12 meeting for a vote. The committee also will be responsible for determining how to find a replacement for City Clerk Traci McDowell, who is retiring Aug. 3 after 34 years working for the city. Mayor Christiansen said Ms. McDowell announced her retirement about two months ago.
Councilman Lindell raised concern that there was no public discussion as to how Councilman Sudler selected the committee’s potential members.
“Did I miss the meeting where ... we already have committee members discussed already?” Councilman Lindell said. “Did I miss the meeting where we discussed the whole process prior to this or is there some ex parte conversation going on? Because I’m confused.”
Councilman David Anderson, who chairs the Legislative, Finance and Administration Committee, said in response that there had been discussion in executive session. But he prompted Councilman Sudler to answer Councilman Lindell’s question.
Councilman Sudler declined to do so.
Prior to naming his selections, the council president said he had given his choices “plenty of thought tonight.”
“I am prepared to select those individuals and councilpersons who I would like to serve on the committee, if so deemed by council to do a committee. I am prepared tonight to name those individuals,” he said.
Outlining the process the council has undertaken in past city manager searches, Councilman Hare said the entity typically forms a committee with members appointed by the president. That committee then advises council if it should hire a consulting firm or conduct the search in-house.
Having gone through this process before, Mayor Christiansen suggested that council forgo using an outside firm to find a replacement. He cited the current panel’s experience in conducting searches to hire school superintendents and previous city managers. Mayor Christiansen noted the move would save the city money, as well.
“I would request that this council consider we not deal with a headhunter,” the mayor said. “I think there’s enough of us who are headhunters and have experience in hiring quality people who have served this city really, really well.”
In hiring Mr. Robertson last year, council opted to hold a national search conducted by an independent consulting firm, The Mercer Group, as opposed to conducting the hunt itself.
Mr. Robertson tendered his resignation May 26 after a little more than five months on the job. Mayor Christiansen said he left Dover for Cincinnati to care for his mother.