In a special meeting on Tuesday, the Cortez City Council scheduled interviews and a public meet-and-greet for the candidates competing for city manager.
Five people have been chosen as finalists for the position left vacant by Shane Hale. They are set to spend Monday and Tuesday in Cortez, participating in interviews with a professional hiring panel and the City Council. The city has also scheduled an opportunity for Cortez residents to meet the candidates at City Hall from 5-7 p.m. on Monday.
John Dougherty of Arizona, Timothy Dodge of New Mexico, Mark Campbell of Colorado and Cortez Public Works Director Phil Johnson are among the finalists. Human Resources Director Matt Cashner declined to reveal the fifth finalist, saying the man didn’t want to publicly announce his candidacy until he met with his current city council on Thursday.
On Friday City Marketing and Events Manager Jon Brooks sent an email identifying the fifth candidate as Martin Moore, city manager of Eunice, New Mexico. Moore has served in the town of 2,000 since 2011, and was named “City Manager of the Year” by the New Mexico Municipal League in 2015.
During the meeting, City Council members and interim manager Chris Burkett hashed out a busy schedule for the candidates’ two-day visit. On Monday, each candidate will spend an hour interviewing with the professional panel. When they’re not in interviews, all the candidates, including Johnson, will be taken on tours of the city.
“The thought was that maybe it would be best to treat him the same as everyone else,” Mayor Karen Sheek said.
The candidates also will set aside time to meet with city employees and department heads before the public open house.
During the open house, the candidates will get up to five minutes to introduce themselves to city residents, followed by an open discussion period.
Attendees will be able to offer feedback on the candidates by writing on comment cards.
Tuesday will be taken up with council interviews, starting at 8:30 a.m. Although city staff initially said the interviews would be open to the public, on Friday City Attorney Mike Green said they would be conducted in executive session. He said the interviews could include discussion about employee salaries, contracts and other matters covered by the Colorado Open Records Act as acceptable reasons for an executive session.
Burkett and Cashner plan to put together a list of 12 to 15 questions for the City Council members to ask each candidate. On Tuesday, several council members offered suggestions about what those questions should look like.
Sheek said it’s important for a city manager to have a long-term vision for his town, so she suggested that the council members ask for examples of each candidate doing something “visionary” in their previous positions.
Councilwoman Jill Carlson said she wanted to ask for the candidates’ ideas on how to engage young people in city politics. Because of the relatively high turnover rate in the city manager position, councilman Ty Keel suggested asking how long each candidate plans to stay in Cortez.
Cashner said he would also include questions on budgeting and other basic elements of city government.
The council plans to hire a new city manager by the end of June.
This article was updated on June 1 after the city of Cortez released new information about the fifth candidate for city manager and the nature of City Council interviews on Tuesday.