Sequim to hire firm for city manager search

With Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett planning to retire by the middle of the year, Sequim City Councilors have begun the first steps for recruiting his replacement.

Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett

With Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett planning to retire by the middle of the year, Sequim City Councilors have begun the first steps for recruiting his replacement.

On Monday, Jan. 12, councilors voted 5-2 with Councilors Genaveve Starr and Erik Erichsen opposed, to send out requests for proposals for a search firm while spending $20,000-$30,000. The cost could include the firm’s fees and travel expenses for candidates.

Burkett said the council had three options – recruit on its own, have Susanne Connelly, human resources director, perform the search, or hire a firm.

He encouraged the council to pursue a firm because he felt adding on the city manager recruitment may take up too much of her time. Tentatively, Connelly will recruit for the vacant public works director position vacated by Paul Haines in late 2014, and the administrative services director position and city attorney positions currently held by Elray Konkel and Craig Ritchie who plan to retire this year.

Burkett said there are no active recruitments now but he wasn’t sure if she would handle all or some of the recruitments.

Starr said she favors Connelly doing the city manager recruitment “not necessarily because of the money but I respect her professional responsibilities. I’d like to give her the opportunity to perform her duty.”

Erichsen asked Burkett to form a committee to select the consulting firm while Councilor Ted Miller wanted all seven councilors involved in the hiring process.

“The selection of a new city manager is the most important thing a city council can do,” Miller said.

In the request for proposals, some of the firm’s duties will include recruiting nationwide, helping with screening and narrowing the applicant pool, conducting in-depth interviews, performing background checks, and verifying references.

Burkett was hired in October 2009 and said after the city hall/police station was finished it would be a good time to retire. He was hired after city councilors withdrew an offer to Vernon Stoner of Olympia, after sexual harassment allegations arose against him.

Smith pleads not guilty to DUI charge

Following his arrest for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on Dec. 14, Sequim Deputy Mayor Dennis Smith, 68, pleaded not guilty in Clallam County District Court on Dec. 19.

His next hearing is Jan. 27.

The charge stems from an incident where Smith rear-ended another vehicle at the Port Williams Road and Sequim-Dungeness Way roundabout.

A Sequim Police officer reported to the scene and in the course of obtaining information from Smith detected the odor of intoxicants. Smith was arrested for driving under the influence and taken to the Sequim Police Department where he was booked through the Washington State Patrol and held overnight in Clallam County Jail.

Smith, who retired from the U.S. Air Force, said this is the first time he’s been accused of drinking and driving. He said he was driving home by himself from a family get-together in Centralia at the time he was pulled over.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said if Smith is found guilty or pleads guilty, city council bylaws allow him to continue serving on the council.

Smith said that he’s spoken with the city’s leadership and he plans to continue serving on the city council.

“I’ve made some efforts to show people I’m not taking this lightly,” he said.

Smith said he’s voluntarily attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he had an assessment done by a treatment center and installed a ignition interlock to show he doesn’t drink and drive.

Smith was appointed to the Sequim City Council on Oct. 8, 2012, and was elected to his position in 2013.



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