Burien Council agrees on process for beginning search for a new City Manager

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by Ralph Nichols

After a lengthy discussion about process at their Aug. 5 meeting, Burien City Council members agreed on a process for selecting an executive search firm to recruit candidates for a new city manager.

When eventually selected, the new city manager will replace Mike Martin, who resigned effective July 24 to become city administrator of Lynden, Wash.

City Attorney Craig Knutson is also serving as interim city manager until the new hire assumes that post.

Three options for the review of executive search firms that respond to the city’s request for proposals were presented to the council:

  1. Staff would review and evaluate the proposals based on prescribed criteria and make a recommendation to the council, which would approve the selection.
  2. The council would review and evaluate the proposals, interview the top three firms, and make a final selection.
  3. Or a “hybrid” process, in which staff review would review and evaluate the proposals, and the council would then interview the top three firms and select an executive search firm.

City lawmakers agreed on the “hybrid” selection process.

They will be presented with all proposals received at their Aug. 19 meeting and will receive evaluations of the firms and recommendations from city staff.

There had been prior discussion among council members – and citizen comment – about whether the current council or a new council seated next January should select not only the new city manager but also the executive search firm.

As many as four of the city’s seven council members could be new to the council after the November election.

But Councilwoman Joan McGilton noted that several council members “have a wealth of experience on who would be appropriate for Burien” as well as prior experience in selecting a new city manager.

New council members elected in November would lack this experience and insight, McGilton said.

And Councilwoman Rose Clark, who twice was a member of councils that selected new city managers, said that even after an executive search firm is selected it might be next spring or summer before a new city manager is hired.

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