County manager candidates: and then there were two

A day and a half of closed-session interviews with applicants for the open county manager position has reduced the field to two finalists.

County Human Resources Manager Pamela Morais said the council has asked her and interim manager Bob Jean for more information about the two finalists, and will meet again in executive session Tuesday, May 21, to further discuss the two finalists.

The final decision must be made in an open council meeting, according to County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord. The decision is expected to occur the same day.

With the help of the Prothman Company of Issaquah, an executive search consultant that specializes in finding local government managers, the County Council winnowed 44 resumes down to seven, two of whom declined to proceed further.

Five San Juan County residents applied, and several other applicants had historical or family ties to the islands. Morais declined to name any names beyond the six finalist names previously released; none of them were from San Juan County.

After spending Monday, May 13, touring the county and meeting local residents at open houses on Orcas, Lopez and San Juan islands, the five candidates spent Tuesday rotating through three meeting rooms and three audiences at county headquarters. Separate panels of citizens and department managers met with the candidates, but whether the panels presented findings or recommendations  to the council was not disclosed.

The council itself spent most of Tuesday, May 14, meeting in executive session, interviewing the remaining five candidates. The two unnamed finalists were asked back for the private interviews the following day. The five who were interviewed were selected from a larger first-cut list of applicants recommended by Prothman for the job.

The new county manager will replace the prior county administrator, a position originally created by the county charter, then eliminated in one of three amendments endorsed by the Charter Review Commission and approved by voters in November. That vote also reduced the county council from six part-time legislators to three full-time elected positions vested with both legislative and executive duties.

The county manager, who will be paid about $150,000 a year, will assist the new 3-person county council in overseeing the functions of local government and those departments not managed by another elected county official, such as the sheriff, auditor or prosecuting attorney.

San Juan County's only administrator, Pete Rose, hired in 2006 as part of the implementation of the charter, resigned in 2012. Since then, Bob Jean has been acting administrator and then acting manager.

The five candidates interviewed were: David Wilbrecht of Mammoths Lakes, Calif., Suzann Sinclair of Seneca Falls, N.Y., Michael Pence from Flathead County, Mont., Jim Pascale of Hopewell N.J., and Michael Thomas, of Enumclaw.



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