Originally Published on: 6/8/2016
By Gloria Lloyd
The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen conducted interviews of three finalists for the city’s first-ever city administrator and could decide on a new city administrator as soon as next week.
When the board next meets in closed session for personnel issues the night of the June 14 board meeting, aldermen could decide who will serve as the city’s first-ever city administrator, or narrow the search to two candidates, Mayor Pat Fribis told the Call. The board will meet for its public meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at City Hall, 3939 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
“I think we should be down to at least one candidate, possibly two, talk about it and then make a choice, that would be ideal,” Fribis said.
The board and Fribis spent two hours interviewing three finalists when they met in closed session before a May 24 work session. At Fribis’ request, the board unanimously voted to record the interviews 5-0, with board President Richard Gau and Ward 3 Alderman Keith Kostial absent.
Gau arrived five minutes late to the meeting, but was present for the interviews.
Kostial did not attend the initial candidate interviews because he was in Wisconsin for a work commitment, but he attended through videoconference for the second half-hour session after the work session.
Incoming Ward 4 Alderman Mark Colombo did not attend because he will not be sworn into office until June 14.
At the May 10 closed session, the board unanimously voted 7-0 to set the interview process, with City Attorney Robert E. Jones finding sample questions from city administrator searches in other jurisdictions to give to the mayor and board for feedback.
The city had 51 applicants when applications closed in March, and aldermen narrowed the field from 10 finalists to five at the April 26 closed session.
In her mayoral campaign, Fribis pledged to look for a “smooth transition” to a city-administrator form of government.
Aldermen unanimously voted in December to switch to a city administrator. Since just before that vote, the administrative side of the city has been run by interim City Hall consultant Robert Heacock, who formerly served as the city manager in Independence.
Soon after, former Mayor Mark Furrer told aldermen that they had allowed the process to “plod along too long,” so he would go ahead and post the position and conduct interviews himself. He posted the position on a statewide site, but aldermen later voted to pull that ad and place a new one with a job description.