What’s the hurry?

Some council members puzzled by rush to fill manager slot
Aug. 14, 2014 @ 07:21 PM

What’s the hurry all of a sudden?
That’s the question lingering over City Council’s possible hiring of a search firm to identify candidates for High Point’s next city manager.
Nearly four months after former City Manager Strib Boynton announced his retirement, Mayor Bernita Sims has called a special meeting for Friday to hear a presentation from a consultant council may hire to undertake a national search for his replacement.
Some council members say the task of filling the job should be put off until after the November election, when at least three and as many as all nine seats on the board turn over.
They say they’re puzzled by why Sims is pushing to start a national search now — less than 90 days until the election — instead of in April, when Boynton gave his notice.
“The mayor is definitely controlling the tempo on this,” said Councilman Jason Ewing, who favors letting the new council pick the next manager after it takes office Dec. 1. “Now, all of a sudden, there’s this sense of urgency. I don’t know if it’s because (Sims is) not running and she wants to have a say-so in the process.”
Sims, who is not seeking re-election, has not returned phone and email messages the past two days.
Three prospective search firms that Sims and council members Jim Davis, Foster Douglas and Becky Smothers have interviewed quoted fees in the $30,000 range, not including expenses, Ewing said.
It makes more sense to let interim City Manager Randy McCaslin stay in the position until after the election — in which every seat is contested — and then determine if he is the person for the job permanently, Ewing said.
“I would rather give Randy the opportunity to prove himself and maybe save the taxpayers that money,” he said.
It can take six to eight months to perform an executive search and get through the interview and selection process, he added.
“I just don’t see this as something that can be run through in 60 to 75 days unless somebody knows something I don’t about a candidate that’s out there,” Ewing said. “We haven’t discussed as a council anything about this until just a few weeks ago. We haven’t identified specific characteristics we want in a manager.”
Councilwoman Judy Mendenhall disagrees with Ewing.
She said she does not think the current council should defer to the incoming council in picking the next manager.
“I think this council is pretty experienced, and I think we have a good idea of what we’re looking for,” said Mendenhall. “I see no reason for this council not to go ahead and do it. I realize that, in the minds of some of those who are anticipating the election working for them in a positive way, they want to be involved. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate for this council to do it.”