Mark Ochenduszko | Interim City Manager
The Sandpiper asked me to describe the process used in Del Mar’s recruitment of a new manager. Probably the best place to start is to describe what it is that a City Manager does.
A City Manager is the top level appointed executive within a City under what is called a “Council-Manager”form of government.” Most cities in California (and in the U.S.) operate under this structure, where the manager directs all facets of the operations of a city. The City Manager reports to the City Council and implements the policies set by the Council. All operating departments report to the manager. In this way, the City Manager is the highest level professional in a municipality. The manager’s role is to remain professional and objective, to make recommendations to the Council, and then carry out the City Council’s determined policy. A City Manager is expected and ethically bound to avoid engaging in political activity within the community he or she serves. Probably the best way to think of the job is that of the CEO of the organization.
City Manager recruitments are conducted behind closed doors. This is done to protect the legal privacy of the candidates, to ensure that their current employment situation is not imperiled by publicizing their candidacy, and to avoid politicizing the process.
The process to hire Del Mar’s City Manager started with a Request for Proposals for a recruiter. The Council hired a very capable executive recruitment firm, Teri Black and Associates, to conduct a nationwide search. This firm has extensive experience in staffing top level local government positions in California.
The process began in July, as Ms. Black interviewed the Council and staff regarding what attributes (and skills and experience) they feel are necessary to succeed in the position. In August, a public workshop was held so that the public could comment on the characteristics they felt were important for Del Mar’s City Manager. The recruiter prepared a recruitment brochure and advertised the position in professional publications related to local government. Over 100 applications were received, and Ms. Black undertook an extensive screening process to narrow the list down to the best qualified and a workable number of candidates for the Council to consider. On October 17, the Council interviewed the recommended candidates and narrowed the group to a select few. On October 31, the City Council conducted secondary interviews of this limited group. The recruiting firm conducted extensive background checks of the candidates being considered to ensure that they have the experience, reputation, and history of professional conduct to serve in this important role in Del Mar. The appointment decision was made in late November, and Scott Huth, the newly selected manager (click here) is expected to start in early January.
It has been a pleasure serving the wonderful community of Del Mar during this transition period.