Wimps need not apply. That's one of the messages Atherton City Council members want to send to anyone thinking about tossing his or her hat in the ring for the city manager's position.
The council met in a special session Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 28, to discuss the process of finding a permanent city manager, which the town has been without since October 2010.
Council members approved budgeting up to $17,000 to hire a recruitment firm, abandoning their original plan to hire the recently resigned interim city manager, John Danielson, to conduct the search.
Mr. Danielson and town officials decided the town should switch course because of uncertainty over whether Mr. Danielson, a retired city manager, would be able to continue receiving his pension if he continued working for Atherton.
The town's goal is to have a permanent manager in place by May 16, although council members and Interim City Manager Theresa DellaSanta acknowledged that date is optimistic.
The council also discussed what it wants in a city manager. Councilman Jerry Carlson listed three criteria he felt were most important. Number one: The new manager has to have "backbone enough to stand up to council members." In summary, he said, he didn't want a wimp in the city manager's office.
Councilman Jim Dobbie agreed, saying that he wants "someone to tell me to go jump in the lake" if he is out of line. Also, he said, it's important that the new manager "be capable of dealing with the unions."
Although the town laid off 13 of its 16 general employees to outsource services last year, officials say it will look to more cuts in employee costs when it negotiates a new contract with police officers this year.
Council members generally agreed with job qualifications outlined in advertisements already published, including a strong financial background, municipal management experience, and a commitment to efficiency of services.
Mayor Bill Widmer is expected to appoint an ad hoc committee of two council members to oversee the recruitment process soon.