Manager search continues
While many residents of Steubenville were disappointed to learn Wednesday that council’s choice for the next city manager, Gerald C. Smith, had declined the job, there were still some positives that could be learned.
Smith said no to Steubenville in favor of a similar job in Junction City, Kan. That really should have come as no surprise – the 20-year veteran of municipal government has been working in Kansas City. Junction City sits about 130 miles, or about a two-hour drive, from Kansas City.
The offer to Smith to fill the job that had been held for 38 months by Cathy Davison before her resignation in May, came at the end of a lengthy search by council members. Smith’s decision to stay in Kansas means that the whole process, beginning with the advertisements, has started once again. The deadline for applications has been set for Oct. 11, and council hopes to have the successful applicant hired by the middle of November.
That means the city will have spent about six months operating under an acting city manager, Mayor Domenick Mucci, and that delay in filling the job has left some in the city asking questions about the selection process.
Council members are certainly targets of some of those questions, but they -and the process outlined in the city charter – worked very well. Four of the final five candidates for the Steubenville position, including Smith, were also offered jobs in other communities. That’s an indication that, when the first go-around in the selection process was all done with, council members had chosen finalists who stood out as being very well qualified.
Because the second finalist took another job before last weekend’s final interviews could be conducted, Smith was the only candidate who came to town to face members of council and the citizens review committee. He received the approval of council and that committee. Once the offer was made, the ball was clearly in Smith’s court, and when faced with a choice between a job in a community much closer to his current home and which reportedly offered better benefits and moving the more than 800 miles to Steubenville, the former won out.
It’s disappointing that the search will go well beyond the 120-day limit outlined in the charter, but after seeing the process play out, it’s encouraging to know that quality candidates for city manager are interested in our community, and that the process used to make a selection from among that group works.
If you are looking for a way to have a positive impact on our community, consider taking part in the United Way of Jefferson County’s annual Day of Caring. This year’s event is scheduled to be held Thursday, with an opening breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at the YWCA on North Fourth Street in Steubenville.
After that, the volunteers are scheduled to head to locations in Amsterdam, Bergholz, Mingo Junction, Steubenville and Wintersville to do work on various projects.
Officials with the United Way, including Executive Director Beth Rupert-Warren, are looking to top last year’s total of 89 volunteers.
Participating is a great way to help others and make our community a better place to live.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)