Mayor seeks community input on city administrator candidates

The Issaquah Mayor’s office has narrowed the candidate pool for the vacant city administrator job to six, and they want you to have a chance to ask them questions.

The Issaquah Mayor’s office has narrowed the candidate pool for the vacant city administrator job to six, and they want you to have a chance to ask them questions. At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, the city is holding a community meeting at Tibbetts Creek Manor to introduce the candidates and give residents a chance to find out if they are compatible with this community. All of the applicants have experience in local government, and while most are from the West Coast, a few come from other areas of the country.

This is the first time in more than three decades that the city has had to recruit for the position of city administrator. After 33 years at the helm, Leon Kos retired last spring leaving a void that has yet to be filled.

The governing structure of the City of Issaquah can be compared to that of a large corporation, with the mayor taking on the role of CEO and the administrator serving as the chief operating officer or COO. Many of the administrator duties will be the same. He or she will manage a portion of the day-to-day operations, communicate with community groups, address personnel issues and handle the budgetary process. Essentially, the new candidate needs to be both a people person and a numbers person.

Mayor Ava Frisinger told The Reporter that the new administrator role will likely evolve depending on the skills set of the individual selected.

“Whomever is hired is someone who is going to be high energy, because it takes a lot of energy for the job,” she said. “The person will share the values of this community, which are focused on sustainability – concerned about the environment, concerned about the people of this community and concerned about the economic vitality of the community.”

The names of the candidates will be released on Tuesday, and though they are all well-qualified, the mayor did say she was disappointed with the diversity of the applicants.

“Very few women applied,” she said, “and one of them dropped out due to other commitments.”

The day after the public has a chance to meet the candidates the real questions start. On Wednesday, two different panels will interview the applicants. The first panel, a group of 10 Issaquah residents, including Council President John Traeger, will evaluate them from the community perspective. The other panel, consisting of directors from each of the city’s departments, Mayor Frisinger and Deputy City Administrator Joe Meneghini, will look at how the candidates fit the needs of the city.

While the names will have been released the day before, the panelists won’t get their information packets until just before their Wednesday meetings.

“We want it to be as even as we possibly can,” Mayor Frisinger said, “so there is not an opportunity for people to go out in advance and decide that one person looks better than another. (We really want) to have a fair opportunity for people to be interviewed.”

Once the interviews are complete and the panels have provided their feedback, the mayor expects to make a decision within the week. If all goes well, the new administrator will start some time in October.