Updated -- Council member Proctor offers comments on manager search
Jim Looney, interim city manager for Jasper, will enter negotiations with candidates for his replacement per instructions given by the council following a closed session Thursday evening.
Council attorney Bill Pickett read a statement when the meeting returned to open session indicating they had authorized Looney to negotiate with the candidates for city manager who have shown an interest in the job. The council interviewed four potential candidates earlier this month.
Following the meeting, Looney and the council members offered little additional input. Looney declined to answer the number of candidates he would be contacting for negotiations as that would hurt his negotiating standpoint.
Looney did point out the statement from the legal counsel said “candidates with an ‘s’,” but wouldn’t comment further.
Also, following the meeting, council member John Foust said only that he felt “good” about the original round of interviews but would not comment further.
On closing the meeting, Mayor John said it was necessary to have the lengthy closed session due to the legal issues involving employment discussions.
The rarely-silent Mayor Weaver did offer two comments as he was leaving the meeting.
First, he said his position on the whole city manager position is already well known (he formerly served as both mayor and city manager and opposed the positions being split) so there was no reason for him to make any further comment.
But then he added that he had let Mr. Looney run the city the past year with little involvement from him as mayor, but that won’t be the case next year. “I will be more involved with the new one. I was elected to do a job and I will take care of it,” Weaver said.
Council member Proctor comments on manager search
Following the posting of this article online, Dr. Sonny Proctor, a council member who led the drive for a paid city manager, offered several comments, including his view that the city’s hiring of a paid manager “is one of the most critical moves ever made in this county.”
Proctor said they had originally had 39 applicants and “technically none were eliminated.”
He acknowledged the law requires them to identify the job candidates if they narrow a field down to three or fewer, but said they haven’t reached that point. With municipal position job searches, they shield the identity of those applying so their current employers won’t see.
Proctor noted that the Jasper council and city government had no experience with hiring for the top city manager as they have operated with a mayor/city manager for most of their history.
Proctor said once the final candidate is named, there would be a 14-day public comment period before the position is finalized.
“We are trying to do it the way a modern city does, but we don’t have any experience with that,” he said. That was a prime reason they are working with the Carl Vinson Institute on the job search.
When asked about a timeline, Proctor would not speculate on whether it would be before the first of the year, but added, “if it was up to me, we’d be rolling it out today.”
Proctor said the council is seeking someone who will “fit in here” and has “the talent to move us forward in a professional manner.”
He felt that two of the top priorities after hiring would be for the manager to work with economic development and downtown revitalization.