The Sitka Assembly continues moving forward with the city administrator hiring process. After advertising for the position at the end of July, the assembly has received a total of 14 applications — some of them familiar faces to long-time Sitkans.
When the Sitka Assembly met on Tuesday night (8/13/19), interim city administrator Dave Miller reported that he’d returned to work this week after two weeks of medical leave.
“I had a little heart problem,” he said. “Went up to work Tuesday morning, and Sara (Peterson) said ‘Man, you look terrible,’ and I thought, ‘What a way to start the week off,’ you know. The next thing I know, I’ve got a medevac flight out. Got a couple of stents and other stuff done. But I’m back and trying to make a run for it again.”
During Miller’s absence, public works director Michael Harmon, then chief administrative officer Jay Sweeney each worked as acting administrator. Miller returned to work just in time to gather all of the applications for the position. He passed out folders full of candidate names and resumes to assembly members at the meeting, leading into a discussion over the hiring process.
The assembly fired former city administrator Keith Brady in June on a split vote, and began advertising to fill the position at the end of July. Assembly member Richard Wein noted the number of applications they’d received after advertising in the Sitka Sentinel, the state ALEXsys system and with the Alaska Municipal League.
“When we went candidate seining, we used our shallow net,” he said. “In a very short time, I’d like to mention that we received 14 plus 1 candidates which I think is pretty good. We will actually see what the quality is when we review their curriculum vitae.”
City attorney Brian Hanson said the applications needed to be properly redacted for confidential and personal information before they could release them to the public– that’s after the assembly narrows down the list.
KCAW received a copy of the applicant list on Wednesday. Of the 14 applicants, three are from Sitka, including John Leach, an aeronautical engineer with the U.S. Coast Guard, and former Sitka police chief Sheldon Schmitt. Another is former Sitka mayor Marko Dapcevich, who currently resides in New River, Arizona. The rest of the applicants span the fifty states, from Alaska to Florida, and one international candidate applying from Russia.
Mayor Gary Paxton said he preferred to meet in a work session to share feedback on the candidates and determine next steps, like who to interview. But there was a question of whether or not making a “list” of candidates to interview constituted “taking an action.” Municipal Clerk Sara Peterson said if they took any actions, they’d need to call a special meeting. Hanson clarified that they couldn’t vote at a work session.
Paxton and assembly member Aaron Bean said they only planned to make a list, but the body ultimately decided to call a special meeting.
Miller said he hoped the assembly would take its time to hire the right person. He said he’s not in a hurry, but is starting to think of retirement. He noted a memo he’d written to the assembly, recommending that when the group hires a new administrator, that it place Miller in an assistant administrator role and hire a new fire chief for him to mentor before he retires.
“My goal is that in the next eight, ten months, give or take, if everybody is hired and rolling, and everything is good to go, then I’ll probably step down,” Miller said. “My last bout with getting flown out of Sitka a few weeks ago was enough for my wife to say “Dave, you really need to start thinking about the grandson that you’re going to have the first part of December.’ And that was good enough for me.”
The assembly will hold a special meeting on Thursday August 22 at 6 p.m. to consider candidates for the city administrator job.