To Brownwood City Councilman Jerry DeHay, the new city manager doesn’t have to have all the answers.
The person does, however, need to have the right questions.
DeHay and other city council members described traits they’ll seek in a new city manager as the selection process gets rolling later this month. Beyond having the knowledge and experience to work with complex city government and budgets, the city manager must be a “people person” who can develop a rapport with the community, city employees and the city council, DeHay and other council members agreed.
Council members will get their first look Tuesday at the applications the city has received for the job of city manager.
The council will meet at 9 a.m. and review the applications in executive session, according to the meeting agenda.
Former city manager Gary Butts, who is working temporarily as a consultant for the city, said the city has received 10 applications and recently forwarded applications to two others who have expressed interest. Those two applications had not been returned as of Friday afternoon.
The application period ends Monday, and council members have approved a tentative timeline that calls for choosing a city manager in mid-August.
Butts said it will be up to the council as to whether he sits in on interviews and gives opinions. He said he’ll do so if asked.
“Personally, what I would like to see is a veteran city manager, an experienced city manager, hopefully someone who has come up through the ranks and (been) promoted, and has been involved in city operations,” Mayor Bert Massey said.
The job of city manager, like school superintendent, requires an “innate ability” to command the respect of the workforce, “interface” with the community and build credibility “with what amounts to a volunteer board of directors,” Massey said.
He said a city manager must meld a city council’s ideas with his own, and “bring reliable, accurate information and demonstrate, over the course of time, that your plan — you can make it work.
“ … The city manager has to have to ability to stay on track. … It’s a hard job anywhere.”
DeHay said he’ll want to evaluate a candidate’s leadership and management styles. He said he’ll seek a team-builder who won’t micro-manage city employees.
“Every community is alike and different at the same time,” DeHay said. “The basic elements and issues you deal with — it’s amazing how similar they are, but the culture and environment are unique to every situation.
“The new city manager has to get his bearings, understand (the community’s) strengths and weaknesses … (and) not be guided by ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ or (by) the way he’s done it somewhere else.
“ … It takes somebody with a special kind of leadership skills.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Fair said he wants a city manager who has experience as a city manager or deputy city manager “or equivalent.”
He said he believes the council will try to find a city manager who has “great compatibility with Brownwood, its culture and its people.
“ … The chemistry has to be right,” Fair said. “You have to have all of the other things, plus the chemistry has to be right.
“ … I’d like to see a successful track record of dealing with issues that face Brownwood — streets, public safety, industry, business, and be able to work with the other government entities such as the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce — just in a nutshell, someone that fits with Brownwood.” Fair said.