Article published Oct 29, 2007
Candidates list desires for new city manager
By RICHARD ECKE
Tribune Staff Writer
Nine candidates for city commissioner and mayor differ at times on what kind of city manager they would like to see.
The current City Commission has expressed a desire to choose a new city manager to replace the retiring John Lawton before Christmas, although delays might push the selection into January. That's when new or re-elected city commissioners will be sworn in.
Here is this week's question for candidates: What qualities would you like to see in a new city manager?
Honesty, directness, willingness to present both sides of every issue and strict adherence to protecting the public's rights in a free society are qualities I would hope we find in the new manager.
Substantial experience with managing a city of this size; open and receptive to new ideas; solicits differing views and opinions and tries to find consensus, but when it comes to make the final decision, makes it decisively and follows through; understands that while he or she is responsible for management of the city, the "bosses" are the elected mayor and commissioners; receptive to citizen input and ideas about policies and procedures; willing to reach out to and work with counterparts in other governmental bodies and agencies; familiar with development and implementation of growth policies, planning and zoning, and the importance of historic preservation as a planning goal.
I'd like to see a city manager who will be committed to working with a wide variety of constituencies to promote economic growth in our community — preferably someone who is a skilled communicator, experienced in management and who loves Great Falls and Montana as much as we do. I'd also be looking for a strong educational background in public administration and solid experience in city/governmental management positions.
Experience and skill in business management, people management and city management. Intelligent, careful, honest, thoughtful, open — able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. I would reduce the city manager's salary and hire someone to manage, not to make political decisions. I would take some of the city manager's salary so saved and give it to the commissioners so they would be able to devote more time to understanding city issues to make better decisions. And, of course, the new commissioners who must work with the new manager should choose the new city manager. It is only fair to the new manager and the electorate. Of course, the current commissioners are experienced, but why should their political views survive an election if they do not? I note one requirement they have placed for selection is supporting the coal plant. What kind of an insult is that to the electorate?
A problem solver who displays a high degree of ethics and integrity. A professional who values the ideas and contributions of their employees. I would like to see the next city manager work on improving relations with county government. We need to have a manager who will address our succession plan for our senior management team. Funding for public safety will always be a top priority.
I would like to see openness, fairness and an articulate person who will involve him or herself in the community. I would like to see someone who has tact and talent in managing people and shares a long-range vision for our community. Passion for quality, intelligence in action and an ability to plan far in advance are also desired qualities.
LARRY H. STEELE
None. The city manager is not responsible to the citizens of Great Falls. Also, the county runs great with three elected officials. I would like to see Great Falls run the same way the county, the state and the country is run. The ones that are truly in charge of Great Falls are elected to the position.
A city manager should be filled with solid foundational qualities like honesty, integrity, a desire to be fiscally responsible and an attitude prone to open government policies. A city manager must have some common sense, a good work ethic and be a critical thinker realizing he or she is accountable to the City Commission and to the general public in budgeting tax dollars. Finding someone who manages the taxpayers' money with a diligent attitude toward savings, trying to get the most out of every dollar and who thinks of the taxpayers first and foremost is the right person for Great Falls.
A manager who will share my vision to lead a process where citizens, the county and businesses work in the best interest of the people. One that will utilize a smart development plan that diversifies our economic base. They must have foresight to effectively maintain our natural and capital resources. The manager needs to be an effective communicator and provide the commission with concise, accurate information. They must have proven accomplishments in leadership and consensus building. Like the commission, they must be willing to look at issues from all sides and not be single focused. Hiring decisions are the greatest importance since they often have the longest-term consequences. As we will judge his character, he must also be a good judge of character to responsibly hire and manage our city staff. We need a manager and mayor who will enrich our community while preserving our precious quality of life.