The search for a new city manager will start again despite objections from Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, division in the city council, and even apparent acknowledgment from the search firm that it’s going to be a challenge.
The council at a special meeting Tuesday voted 5-3 to hire Slavin Management Consultants for a process that the firm estimates can be wrapped up in three months.
On another matter, the council tabled a vote on a lease agreement for the future Houbolt Road bridge until July 7.
The city manager search will be the second in less than a year for Joliet, which did not find a candidate the council was willing to approve after a search that was managed in-house.
“I don’t know why we’re doing this again,” O’Dekirk said, repeating opposition he has stated before against a city manager search.
“Ultimately, you’re going to be guessing on someone probably from out of state,” O’Dekirk said. “I would urge the council not to redo this search.”
The mayor urged the council instead to hire someone local, saying he had “several candidates that I would consider.”
But the council broke into its usual 5-3 division over city manager issues that has been consistent for more than a year after O’Dekirk was unsuccessful in attempting to give the position to former interim City Manager Martin Shanahan without a candidate search.
Slavin Management Consultants, a Georgia-based firm that specializes in public sector services, will charge $23,901 for the search.
Robert Slavin, president of the company, “acknowledges there will be challenges to the search,” said Kathy Franson, director of human resources, when asked by a council member about the impact of the prolonged controversy over the job. “But he remains confident that he will be able to source someone who is qualified for the position.”
Franson said Slavin’s “estimated time frame is 60 to 90 days complete.”
The council in discussing the matter aired some of their differences in public.
Councilman Pat Mudron said he was against picking a candidate in the last go-around because he did not believe everyone on the council would “work with them.”
O’Dekirk then said, “You weren’t willing to work with Marty Shanahan.”
“Correct,” Mudron replied. “If someone in this group won’t work with him, I won’t vote for him.”
Councilwoman Sherri Reardon said she would have approved one of the two finalists considered earlier this year until she saw the report from the personality profile that she requested.
“Once he did the test,” she said, “I didn’t feel that way any longer.”