Issaquah is currently in the process of determining a new city administrator following the resignation of Emily Moon.
Moon announced her departure on March 25. She will be traveling the world with her family beginning in August, she said.
The city administrator works under the direction of the mayor and is responsible for managing human, financial and material resources. The administrator coordinates the activities and functions of the various city offices, departments, commissions and boards in implementing the requirements of city ordinances and the policies of the city council, as referenced in Issaquah’s job announcement for the position.
The job description states that the ideal candidate will be a big-picture thinker. The applicant gives attention to details and is able to implement direction from policymakers and deliver the level of services and quality of life that residents expect and value.
According to Pauly, more than 80 candidates applied for the position since the job opened. After a long process, the applicants were narrowed down to two finalists: Marty Wine and Wally Bobkiewicz.
Mayor Mary Lou Pauly hosted a public meet and greet of the two candidates at Workshop Issaquah on July 25. Pauly is ultimately the deciding factor for the city administrator position.
Bobkiewicz is the current city manager of Evanston, Illinois. Before Evanston, he was a city manager in Santa Paula, Calif., for seven years and an assistant city manager in Novato, Calif., for more than four years.
“I have been doing local government for a long time,” Bobkiewicz said. “After 10 years in Evanston, I am looking for a new challenge.”
He received a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University before earning a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. Bobkiewicz and his wife want to raise their 3-year-old son, Wally IV, in the Seattle area.
“When my son was born, it was a wakeup call,” said Bobkiewicz. “I’m sold on Issaquah.” He plans to refocus his life to have a better work-life balance.
From his time as a city manager, Bobkiewicz says he is most proud of helping to reopen a hospital that went bankrupt in Santa Paula. Saving hospitals is not normally in the job description for a city manager, he explained, but the next closest hospice was 20 miles away, so he needed to take action.
When asked about including youth in city happenings, Bobkiewicz mentioned his role in hiring a police chief in Evanston. He explained the effectiveness of going to the local high school to discuss qualities they wanted in a new chief.
Wine has served as the city manager in Tigard, Ore., since December 2011. She previously worked as an assistant chief administrative officer for the city of Renton and as a principal associate for Berk Consulting.
Wine has a history of devotion to public service in King County, Bellevue, Renton and the Washington state House of Representatives. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Western Washington University and completed a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University.
“I really have a passion for local government and services that are managed well,” Wine said. “There is so much that cities do to touch our everyday lives.”
Wine said her most challenging experience as a city manager was when she helped transform an abandoned rail line into a trail system. The community identified the desire to have a more connected path, leading Wine to have conversations with neighbors about the concern of having a busy trail in their backyards.
In a question about neighborhood engagement, Wine said dialogue within the city is important to make sure people’s needs are being met. Community engagement is successful when the residents believe they can access the city, she stated.
Bobkiewicz is not a candidate without controversy.
Bobkiewicz has faced criticism from Evanston residents over a lack of prompt action surrounding the 2015 arrest of a black man. Lawrence Crosby was suspected of stealing a car that turned out to be his own and was arrested in October 2015, according to reporting by the Evanston Review.
The Evanston Review wrote that Crosby was driving to Northwestern University, where he was an engineering doctoral candidate, when police arrested him. Police footage of the altercation released in 2017 shows officers commanding Crosby to get on the ground, as the man was standing with both hands up in the air. When he didn’t comply quickly, a group of five officers rushed Crosby, bringing him to the ground.
After the video was released, Bobkiewicz announced he would work with the Evanston police chief on procedure changes, the Evanston Review reported.
Bobkiewicz was also a defendant in a 2016 race discrimination case, filed by the former Evanston director of public works.
Pauly said she learned of Bobkiewicz’s background from a consulting firm prior to beginning the interview process with him. The public expressed added concern after researching the history of the finalist.
Karras Consulting, an executive search firm, was in charge of doing a criminal and media background vetting of the candidates.
Dennis Karras, co-founder and CEO of Karras Consulting, said the firm was aware of the discrimination case and read the news reports on the lawsuit and associated documents. Then they talked to those involved, including Evanston city council members and staff.
“The key to it is to find out what’s behind it and to make sure you interview those people who know the truth to determine whether or not that action is one that would have any bearing on the appointment of the individual to a position,” Karras said.
You can’t be a city manager without litigation and controversy that arise from one time or another, Karras said. He added that the firm had “no qualms at all about Bobkiewicz.”
The decision to appoint the new city administrator will be made sometime in early August, Pauly said.