TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City commissioners will publicly interview six candidates for the city’s top administrator job today.
Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes hopes commissioners can select a new city manager by the time current Manager Ben Bifoss retires June 28.
Estes said commissioners are looking for several qualities in the ideal candidate, such as past experience as a city manager, and a background that includes a familiarity with publicly owned utilities and collective bargaining.
An ideal candidate also will understand the distinct roles of the city commission and the city manager in municipal governance, Estes said, adding that no one aspect of a candidate’s background or experience will be a deal-breaker.
”It’s got to become very clear to the candidate that we want someone who understands the difference between administration and policy,” Estes said.
Commission members previously thinned a pool of 55 applicants to 11. Six of those candidates will be interviewed today.
Traverse City Commissioner Jim Carruthers said commission members will try to ask each candidate roughly the same questions as they gauge their fit for the city manager position.
”It’s not an easy job, and it’s hard to pick someone off a piece of paper or resume,” Carruthers said. “But I think the interviews will help (fill) that out.”
Estes said each commissioner will rank their top three choices after the interviews. He said a few candidates usually rise to the surface, and one could even receive top rankings from each commissioner.
”If that does happen, we’d be hard-pressed not to offer a contract to that person,” Estes said.
Candidates include: Jered Ottenwess, city manager for the City of Ishpeming; Vance Ishler, county administrator of Allegany County, Md.; Dan Wietecha, city manager Evansville, Wis.; Robert Anderson Jr., director of planning and development for the City of Detroit; William J. Cooper, former city manager for the cities of Hamtramck and Mount Clemens, and Richard A. Douglas, town manager for Selma, N.C.
A seventh anonymous candidate declined an invitation for an interview.
Candidates for the city manager job will be interviewed today at the Boardman Avenue Governmental Center in the following order:
- 9:05 a.m. — Richard Douglas
- 10:05 a.m. — William Cooper
- 11:05 a.m. — Dan Wietecha
- 12:30 p.m. — Vance Ishler
- 1:30 p.m. — Jered Ottenwess
- 2:30 p.m. — Robert Anderson, Jr