City employs veteran manager to hire new leader

Lee Walton will facilitate the city of Sequim’s transition to a new city manager after six of seven city councilors approved hiring the Bainbridge Island man.

Walton has been a city manager for several different cities during his 40-year career and has done freelance work with “headhunter” type recruitment firms.

City Councilor Ken Hays, who also was part of the special committee to determine how a new manager would be hired, said hiring Walton would be a good middle ground between going it alone and hiring a professional recruitment firm.

Councilor Paul McHugh was not convinced. He quizzed Walton on what he could bring to the process and how that would be different from a search firm.

Walton indicated a search firm would have a broader reach due to a full staff and a constant finger on the pulse of the city leadership community.

“They have their little black book,” Walton said, indicating that some of the best candidates are not looking for a job. “I have my little black book as well, but it just may not be as thick.”

Walton said he already has been approached by several candidates after his name was first put in the newspaper as a possible recruitment advisor for the city.

“I’ve already ruled one or two out,” he said, indicating there would be no shortage of candidates. “They would not have been a good fit, but there are always more candidates, like one who contacted me could fit here but we would have to see and you will have the say of who to interview and who to hire.”

McHugh said he thought Walton’s experience would work well in hiring a new manager, but wanted it to be done through a search firm, rather than through Walton alone.

“With all due respect, sir, I just would like a broader reach to be able to reach as many candidates as possible,” McHugh said.

Walton nodded, indicated he would be willing to go that route. However, the rest of the council voted to hire Walton on the spot for a cost not to exceed $5,700.

“I see this as a good compromise,” Councilor Walt Schubert said. “Mr. Walton can help our interim manager and our interim manager (Robert Spinks) can help Mr. Walton.”

After the decision was made to hire Walton, Hays indicated the special committee to form the hiring process would be disbanded. The group was scheduled to meet the next two Thursdays, but now those meetings are cancelled.

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