Crestwood aldermen set to consider appointing first female administrator

Thirty to 40 candidates seek city administrator’s position.

By EVAN YOUNG

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen was scheduled this week to consider appointing the city’s first female city administrator.

Aldermen were scheduled Tuesday — after the Call went to press — to consider Mayor Jeff Schlink’s recommendation of Petree Eastman to succeed Jim Eckrich as city administrator. She is a consultant for the St. Louis Area Municipal League. She served as University City’s assistant city manager from April 2007 until June 2010.

Eastman also has served as president of the St. Francis Homes Association in San Francisco, a consultant to the Missouri at-torney general, an associate attorney at Armstrong Teasdale and supervisor of school finance for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

She received a master’s degree in city planning from the University of California Berkeley and a doctorate in law from St. Louis University.

Schlink said Eastman emerged as the top candidate for the job out of 30 to 40 total applicants.

“When we looked at the different candidates there were a variety of things we were focusing on,” Schlink told the Call, “and to me, what set her apart wasn’t just her experience as an assistant city manager, but it was really more her thinking, her thought pattern. I think that she’s a very deliberate person. I think that financially she’s very savvy, she is an attorney — I think she brings a very broad spectrum to the city of Crestwood, and I think that we can definitely leverage and help improve the city.”

Schlink said Eastman’s experience in University City — a community more than three times the size of Crestwood — has prepared her well for the city administrator post.

“Granted, things are a little bit different in each municipality, but I thought there also, even though it was an assistant city manager role, really an assistant city manager — I mean that’s essentially what you’re being groomed for is to be a city manager,” he said. “And I think that her time there groomed her very well … I think her experience will really, really match up with what we need out of a city administrator.”

The mayor said Eastman was “very analytical” with her responses during interviews over the phone and in person.

In a conversation about sales-tax revenue sharing between cities, for example, Schlink said he and Eastman had different opinions about “pool” cities — such as University City — receiving sales-tax proceeds from “point of sale” cities like Crestwood.

“I gave her my bias … I told her that, you know, we could use that money that we have in Crestwood; tell me what you think about sales-tax sharing as it relates to the city of Crestwood,” Schlink said. “So even though I basically baited her into ‘You can just be a yes-person and tell me you agree with me,’ instead her response was, ‘You know, maybe today with the way the retail is in Crestwood you may not want to give that money away, but what if the retail in Crestwood got worse to the point where you wanted to be on the receiving end of some of that money? Maybe you wouldn’t want to shut off that 1-percent sharing that takes place in the county. Maybe you’d have a different perspective on it.’

“What I liked about the response wasn’t so much what she said, it was just the fact that she didn’t just take the obvious response and feed it back to me … It’s not like she was saying that’s what we need to do, but I like the fact that she was bringing a broader perspective to it and just saying, ‘Hold on, let’s look at this a little more closely and understand all the aspects of it.'”

Eckrich earlier this year requested to become director of public services, a position he held before becoming city administrator in 2008. He has been serving as both public services director and acting city administrator since the board approved his request in April.

Aldermen voted 5-3 April 12 to name Eckrich public services director, a position he previously held from November 2005 until July 2008, when he was promoted to city administrator. Eckrich has continued to serve as acting city administrator until his successor is hired.