The search for a new Irving City Manager appears headed to conclusion sooner rather than later. In typical Irving government fashion of late, it has been a bumpy ride to the finish line.
The Irving City Council hired The Waters Consulting Group, Inc. to assist in the search for a new city manager last fall following the departure of Tommy Gonzalez. In the meantime, they inked a six-month contract with Steve McCullough to return as an interim city manager, a position he held from 1993 through 2005. The agreement is scheduled to end April 1.
As reported last week, recently a handful of the council members supported a plan to extend McCullough’s contract for two years to April 2016. Irving City Councilman Dennis Webb was among those considering an extension of his contract.
Webb reportedly told the Mayor he was considering extending McCullough’s interim contract largely because there is a distinct distrust and concern in the community of the Mayor possibly manipulating a “new” City Manager and trying to derail the Irving Entertainment Center (IEC) project.
However, City of Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne unexpectedly scheduled interviews on Saturday, Jan. 4 with the top five city manager applicants identified by The Waters Consulting Group.
Although not all members were present for the interviews, the list was narrowed to three candidates. The three finalists reportedly include one local candidate Gilbert T. Perales from Irving; L. Todd Hileman, Glenview, Ill.; and Steven R. Sarkozy from Bellevue, Wash.
On Tuesday, speaking by phone, Webb shared the key factors in selecting the next Irving City Manger.
“We need someone who has experience managing major economic development projects,” according to Webb. “We are in a very competitive environment, and we need someone at the helm who can really lead us.”
As a recent retiree from the Grand Prairie Fire Department, following a 30-year career, Webb emphasized the importance of another key role of the city manager. He considers keeping the morale of the city staff up a critical function of the manager’s job.
“Being an ex-city employee myself, I am very sensitive to employee morale,” Webb shared.
This week each candidate is expected to attend the Irving State of the City Address on Friday, providing an opportunity to meet Irving community leaders. Then the Council will interview each candidate.