Although only 10 women applied for Sitka’s top job, five of them made it through the first round. “We’re all men, mostly white men,” said member Tristan Guevin, “Diversity should be important.” (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

The Sitka Assembly culled its list of applicants for municipal administrator from 48 to 16, in a special meeting last night (Thu 2-16-17).

Municipal administrator Mark Gorman is stepping down in June — time to give the assembly a head start finding someone to fill his shoes, and learn how to walk in them.

Although three-quarters of the applicants received at least one vote from someone on the assembly, there was strong consensus around current municipal staffers Dave Miller — Sitka’s fire chief — and Bryan Bertacchi, who serves as utility director.

Several other candidates also have municipal government experience. Mayor Matt Hunter said that this was an important criteria for him.

“As I was reading these I looked for municipal experience, I was looking for relevant business experience, some sort of management. I definitely wanted someone who understood a variety of parts of our municipality. So I was intrigued by a couple of folks who had worked as public works directors, even though they hadn’t been administrators of cities, because they oversaw so many different departments.”

The city spends roughly $10,000 to advertise the position, according to human resources director Mark Danielson. He urged assembly members to take a second look at their top 16 applicants through the following lens.

“Capacity, attitude, personality, and skills. We can’t find out much about their attitude and personality — their behavior — from applications. But what we can look at is what they have the capacity to do, and what they already have the skills to do.”

He cited current administrator Mark Gorman as someone who clearly had remarkable capacity for running local government, although he had never been an administrator.

Two other local candidates, former Sitka Tribal Enterprises director Camille Ferguson, and former mayor Marko Dapcevich, received only one vote each — both from assembly member Aaron Bean. The two will not advance to the next round — though Danielson noted that the assembly was welcome to revisit the candidate pool if the interviews with finalists proved unsatisfactory.

The assembly will meet again next Monday, February 20, at 6 PM in Harrigan Centennial Hall to try and narrow the list further to between 5 and 10 finalists.