Council still searching for city manager with ‘it’ quality

Picking the right person to lead City Hall is no small task.

After more than 40 candidates and six finalists, Redwood City couldn’t find the right person to replace City Manager Ed Everett, who retired last November after 15 years at the helm. The City Council will meet tonight in closed session to weigh whether to cast its nets again and hope to find a good match this time.

In Redwood City, as in many California cities, the city manager serves as the boss of City Hall, similar to the CEO of a corporation. He or she is hired by — and answers to — the City Council, which is akin to a company’s board of directors.

“I’m looking for someone who’s got a good head on their shoulders, has experience, understands municipal finances, has broad vision but is an excellent manager and who has enthusiasm,” Councilman Jim Hartnett said.

While the first search yielded a variety of qualified candidates, none had that “it” quality the leaders were looking for, Hartnett said.

The possible search comes as the city undergoes a time of transformation, Mayor Rosanne Foust said. The city just adopted blueprints for major change with the downtown precise plan, and is developing a long-range vision by updating its general plan over the next three years.

“We just didn’t find a candidate that fit with the current culture,” Foust said. “We wanted someone who fits with the vision the council puts forward, and who fits with the vision we get from community input.”

Community Development Director Peter Ingram has been serving as Redwood City’s interim city manager since Everett’s departure. The council has the option to offer him the job permanently or launch a brand-new external search, Human Resources Director Bob Bell said.

Councilmembers would not comment on whether they might offer Ingram the job. City officials from Belmont also had a rough time finding a permanent leader after Jere Kersnar left in 2004 but hired Jack Crist in November 2006.

“It’s not easy to find a city manager these days, because not a lot of people are going into it,” Belmont Councilmember Coralin Feierbach said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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