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Search for city manager hinges on election results

A candidate profile for Federal Way's next city manager is established, but the search will be delayed.

The hold-up comes as a result of Proposition One — a citizen initiative on the November ballot that asks voters to elect the city's mayor and ditch the city manager position. Prothman, a consulting firm hired in August to conduct the city manager search, recommended the search timeline be adjusted to allow for recruitment of candidates after the results of the election are known.

On Sept. 25, the city council moved forward with the recommendation and also approved a candidate profile. The upcoming ballot measure will delay the search process by roughly six weeks. The hindrance is not ideal, but it is necessary, city council member Dini Duclos said.

"I just think it's a prudent thing to do," she said.

Prothman began accepting applications for the city manager position this week. The first review of the applications was previously scheduled for Oct. 25. The review will now take place on Nov. 22. Some candidates may be interested in the job, but hesitant to apply because of the uncertainty surrounding Proposition One, according to a memo to the city council from Prothman.

The extension allows those candidates time to submit the necessary materials for consideration for the opening, in the event voters reject Proposition One and keep the city council/manager form of government intact.

An ideal candidate profile will be advertised inside a recruitment brochure. The profile was created by a team comprised of city council members, city staff and community stakeholders. The brochure and profile are hoped to attract a qualified pool of candidates.

The future manager will:

• Have experience as a manager and a leader who understands municipal government.

• Be honest, hard-working and approachable.

• Illustrate trustworthiness and provide mutual respect and cooperation.

• Exhibit excellent oral and written communication skills.

• Take a fiscally conservative approach to budgeting.

• Hold outstanding organizational skills.

• Show an ability to delegate appropriately.

• Encourage a strong team environment and serve as a mentor for personal and professional growth.

• Possess a proven record of creating and implementing a high-performance, customer-service focused and organizational culture.

• Prove to be accessible and responsive to the public, elected officials and city staff.

• Demonstrate a record of working well with regional partners.

• Display the ability to be a good listener.

• Provide a sense of humor and a "can-do" attitude.

In June, the council decided to abandoned its own efforts to recruit a qualified candidate and instead hire a consultant to find a new city manager. The council has expressed its desire to have a leader in place no later than February. That goal will not likely be met now.

"I think March is more optimistic and realistic," Human Resources director Mary McDougal said.

A series of sessions to select and interview semi-finalists will take place in December. Final interviews will occur Jan. 25.

"We do anticipate having community involvement at that time," McDougal said.

Duclos, who has been a vocal supporter of moving the search process along quickly, effectively and with public involvement, said the delay is for the best. The city council wants to attract the best candidates to the position. If the timeline were not extended, it would have limited the qualified candidates that apply, she said.

"I wanted to have this go as quickly as possible," Duclos said. "With the new initiative out there to change the form of government, we have to slow this thing down."

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