The Sitka Assembly resorted to using an executive search firm after rejecting over 50 applicants for municipal administrator who didn’t measure up.

The search for an administrator for the City of Sitka has entered a new phase. The Sitka Assembly last week (5-18-17) met in a work session with a representative of an executive recruitment firm and spelled out exactly what they’d like to see in Sitka’s next chief executive.

Downloadable audio.

Note: The Prothman Company has also recommended a candidate to serve as interim administrator. The assembly will consider whether to interview the interim candidate — or to move ahead with an interim administrator from within the community — when it meets in regular session Tuesday evening, May 23.

Wanted: An administrator for an adorable Alaskan town

Mr. Banks: Adorable? That’s debatable.

Jane and Michael sing: If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition…

After fifty unsuccessful candidates and almost six months, hiring Sitka’s next administrator is proving harder than finding a nanny for Jane and Michael Banks.

Jane and Michael sing: You must be kind, you must be witty…

The Banks, of course, landed Mary Poppins, who met each of those tough job requirements. But could she manage Sitka?

At a recent work session, assembly members were asked to describe their perfect candidate.

This is Steven Eisenbeisz.

“I think someone who’s going to come with their own thoughts and ideas, that is able to work independently of the assembly, but also is not going to undercut me when I do suggest something that may or may not go along with their thoughts.”

And this is Mayor Matt Hunter.

“I’d like to see someone who is a creative thinker who is going to try and solve a problem themselves and bring us potential solutions, but then as Steven said, take direction as well. But also, if they really believe we’re making a mistake, they communicate that well.”

Tristan Guevin is looking for inclusivity.

“Someone who’s able to see things from other people’s perspectives, whether they agree or disagree with the person, to be able to understand where each assembly member is coming from.”

Aaron Bean wants an administrator who is impartial and responsive.

“If we act as we should as a board of directors and direct them, that they take that direction, and not necessarily try to insert their opinions so much.”

And Kevin Knox wants some creative backbone.

“Someone who’s willing to take risks. I think it’s important in bringing some of the ideas to the table that we’re not afraid of exploring some of those out-of-the-box solutions that might be floating around.”

John Hodgson, with The Prothman Company, based in Issaquah, Washington, was taking notes.

“So what I heard is: Come with their own thoughts, work independently, respect what the assembly has to say, creative thinker, takes direction, bring a problem, bring a solution, willing to guide if the assembly might be moving in the wrong direction, see things from others perspectives, respectful, understand, look for common ground, no impartiality and not too independent, responsive, available to meet, work on morale with staff, vision, calculated risk-taker, exploration, and a good communicator. Did I miss anything?”

Just one thing — but we’ll come back to it.

Prothman’s specialty is recruiting executive management for municipalities in the Pacific Northwest. The assembly has agreed to spend $20,500 plus expenses on the search, which should produce a list of final candidates by mid-August. If the successful candidate leaves the job within a year, Prothman will find Sitka a replacement and charge only expenses.

Current administrator Mark Gorman is stepping down in June. The salary has been advertised at $135,000, which Hodgson thought was low. “You don’t want to lose a good candidate over a couple thousand dollars,” he said.

Although umbrellas are optional, Sitka’s next administrator (and spouse) should be fond of rain.

The assembly told Hodgson that they were also looking for longevity — someone who would stay longer than three years.

And there was that one missing thing, noted by member Aaron Swanson.

Hodgson — …Did I miss anything?
Swanson — The spouse must like rain.

But this is Alaska, after all, and the umbrella is optional.

Jane and Michael sing: If you won’t scold and dominate us, we will never give you cause to hate us…