Update: Decision on new city manager possible this week

Virtual meet-and-greet set for Thursday

Update 9/8/21:

One of the five candidates, Patrick Comiskey of Cambridge, Md., has withdrawn his candidacy due to schedule conflicts, city staff said Wednesday.

The remaining four candidates will be interviewed in-person in multiple meetings in executive session from 8:35 a.m.-2:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. A tentative decision could be made that afternoon.

To attend the Friday meetings online, visit https://zoom.us/j/91235464249, or call (253) 215-8782 and use ID# 912 3546 4249.

Previously:

The City of Sequim’s five city manager finalists go before city councilors and the public this week leading up to a possible selection on Friday.

A public, virtual reception will go live at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, through the city’s website at sequimwa.gov via Zoom at us06web.zoom.us/j/81744790068 and by calling 253-215-8782 (meeting ID 817 4479 0068).

Candidates will introduce themselves followed by different breakout rooms to converse with individual candidates, city staff said.

Emily Stednick, Sequim’s human resources director, said it’s unclear how many of the candidates will appear in-person and/or come to Sequim, but they’ve been given the option to attend virtually.

Candidates include: Patrick Comiskey, current city manager for Cambridge, Md.; Charisse Deschenes, Sequim interim city manager; Jeff Durbin. interim town manager for Frisco, Colo.; Matt Huish, chief administrative officer for Sandy, Utah; and Joe Lessard, a self-employed independent consultant in Texas and former assistant city manager in Austin, Texas.

On Thursday, finalists will meet one-on-one with each city council member, followed by a staff-only meet-and-greet and then the public reception, Stednick said.

On Friday, Sept. 10, three concurrent panels of interviews will meet with the candidates in closed sessions, including the entire city council, a portion of city staff leadership and a community panel of representatives with the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sequim School District, Economic Development Council, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the North Peninsula Building Association.

Stednick said Friday’s meetings will be on Zoom but in executive session. Councilors will then resume the public portion of the meeting in the afternoon and may vote to make an offer to a candidate, or choose to wait until the Monday, Sept. 14 city council meeting.

Depending on if do come to Sequim for interviews, candidates will be reimbursed for airfare, and they have hotel reservations made for them already, Stednick said.

Once councilors offer the manager position to a candidate, Stednick said they will need to go into negotiations before a hire is finalized.

For more about upcoming city meetings and events, visit sequimwa.gov.

City manager history (20-plus years)

Deschenes’ contract is as interim city manager until either she’s hired as the permanent city manager or someone else is selected.

She was appointed interim following former city manager Charlie Bush’s resignation in January after a majority of councilors called for his resignation. A press release from Bush and the city said the parting was over “philosophical differences.”

Bush gave notice to resign in February 2020 over personal reasons but asked for reinstatement as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, which councilors agreed to do. Deschenes was set to become interim city manager then, too.

To bring in city manager candidates, city councilors agreed to a contract with Colin Baenziger and Associates for $28,500 in late April, who narrowed the finalists from about 40 to seven with councilors selecting the five candidates.

Baenziger’s team helped recruit Bush in 2015 following the retirement of former city manager Steve Burkett.

In October 2009, Burkett was hired after the then-city council withdrew its offer its first choice Vernon Stoner of Olympia after sexual harassment allegations against him arose.

Burkett became Sequim’s first permanent city manager more than a year after former manager Bill Elliott was fired in May 2008, after serving the role since 2002. Then-city councilors argued over perceived issues about Elliott’s slow progress on city issues and no set goals/standards for staff.

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