Community may have input in Joliet’s next city manager
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org June 19, 2013 7:04PM
Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante listens to the budget presentation at the Joliet City Council meeting Monday, August 1, 2011 in Joliet, Illinois. | Art Vassy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2013 6:31PM
The community could have a role in picking the next city manager of Joliet.
The firm hired this week to recruit a new city manager offers a community meet-and-greet with the finalists as part of its $18,900 package of services.
Also, Mayor Thomas Giarrante has said he is considering making community members part of the selection committee that interviews candidates.
Giarrante, however, said Wednesday that he’s not sure about a meet-and-greet with the community.
“I want to know how the program works,” the mayor said. “My only concern is who comes and who doesn’t come. You can’t invite the whole city. How do you decide who you invite and who you don’t invite?”
An open meet-and-greet might seem an odd event, especially for a job that is likely to attract media attention. City manager candidates who attend are likely to have their names reported, thus giving notice to current employers.
But that is what happened to Joliet Assistant City Manger Ben Benson when he interviewed for the city administrator position in Clinton, Iowa. Benson, who did not get the job, was one of two finalists, which became news in Joliet when a Clinton newspaper reported his performance at a public interview.
Benson had both a public interview, which was optional, and a community meet-and-greet in Clinton.
“I think it was good,” Benson said. “You’re trying to send a message of transparency in government. That was part of my platform for the job. So, I wasn’t going to close it (the optional public interview).”
In Clinton, community members, including business people, were involved in the interviews early on, he said.
Benson acknowledged that depending on the candidates’ current job situations some may be reluctant to engage in public events that publicize their names before being given the job.
Names tend to get out anyway as local media finds out that a high-profile government official could leave town for another job.
When Joliet City Manager Thomas Thanas was being recruited for government positions elsewhere in early 2012, he was required to include local media among his references. Once a reporter at The Herald-News was called, the news was out that Thanas was considering another job.
The recruitment firm hired by the city council on Tuesday is Voorhees Associates, which has offices in five states including an Illinois office in Deerfield. Voorhees was used by the Joliet City Center Partnership in hiring its new executive director, Pam Owens, last month.
Robert Beezat with Voorhees said the process should take about 90 days, and the Joliet city manager job could attract 50 to 60 applicants.
“Ten years ago, you would have had closer to 100,” Beezat said, noting that the challenge of selling a home these days has affected the pool of candidates. “Now, because of the housing situation, it’s slowed down a bit.”
Voorhees listed costs that include $13,500 as the basic recruitment fee. Another $4,500 covers recruitment expenses, including travel, advertising and other costs. A $900 charge is added if Joliet wants a recruitment brochure.