Wanted: a man or woman who can envision a future for Bakersfield and then make that vision a reality.
Reward: based on prior experience.
It is approaching decision time for the Bakersfield City Council. Over the next two months, the council will go about the work of selecting the next city manager, a role no council has had to undertake in more than a quarter of a century.
Last week, the deadline for accepting applications closed, and now the tough work of selecting the right candidate for the job will begin.
“With the size of Bakersfield, we deal with a host of weighty issues on a regular basis, but this is an extremely important decision for us,” said Councilman Chris Parlier, who chaired an ad-hoc committee that steered the council through the early stages of the selection process. “It is a decision that is going to potentially outlast current serving councilmembers. We may not still be on the council and that person may still be with the city.”
With the impending retirement of current City Manager Alan Tandy, the reigns of Bakersfield will be under new control for the first time in 27 years.
While under the direct supervision of the council, the city manager exerts wide control over the kinds of projects the city undertakes. During Tandy’s tenure, Bakersfield constructed Mechanics Bank Arena and neared complete implementation of the Thomas Roads Improvement Program. Many consider the two projects crucial for the growth of Bakersfield.
And with the city poised for future growth, councilmembers see potential for the next city manager to make a big impact on the future of the city.
“We have good fiscal stability. We’re in good shape. We have not had infighting political problems within the council,” Councilman Bob Smith said. “We’re a large city. I think it’s a great job opportunity for the best candidates.”
The city has hired Roberts Consulting Group to recruit and examine the initial applicant pool. The company produced a four-page brochure to send to individuals potentially interested in the position.
The brochure prominently highlights the city’s size and the recent 1 percent sales tax increase as a draw for new city managers. The consultant characterized Bakersfield as a city that has maintained its small-town hospitality while being pro-business and affordable.
This month, the City Council will receive an update from the consultant on the status of the application process. Much of the information regarding the applicants will remain confidential in order to protect those who may not want to disclose to their bosses that they are looking for a new job.
In mid-January, the council will conduct two rounds of interviews before potentially selecting a final applicant.
Smith said he hoped to find somebody who will stay with the city for 10 years. He said a lot of cities change city managers every two or three years, a fate he hopes Bakersfield avoids.
“Stability is the key to success of a city,” he said. “If you’re spending a lot of energy or time changing the top people, then it’s hard to get long-term projects done.”