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Council to View List of City Manager Candidates

By Jorge Casuso

October 26 -- The City Council Wednesday night will be presented with a recommended list of 20 candidates for city manager, nearly half of whom have ties to Santa Monica, according to the consultant leading the search.

The candidates were winnowed down by consultant Lisa Mills from a list of 58 applicants from across the country. Those on the short list were all interviewed by Mills.

Council members, who will be viewing the list for the first time in closed session, can also view the resumes of any of the other candidates who failed to make the short list, Mills said.

“They will see the entire list , who has applied, where they’re from and their relevant experience,” said Mills, who heads the Mills Group. “It’s usually pretty self-evident why I’ve chose the 20 to be the focus.

“This is a really good pool,” she said. “I’m real excited.”

On Wednesday, the council will select six candidates and conduct interviews with them next Tuesday and Wednesday, Mills said, adding that the choice will be difficult.

“It’s hard,” she said. “I don’t think I can pick the six.”

After meeting with the six candidates, the council will invite two of them back for a final interview November 14, Mills said.

Eight of the 20 candidates “have some kind of connection to Santa Monica,” said Mills, adding that the list of candidates is kept confidential and that the council will view the names for the first time on Wednesday.

“It can cost you your job if the council feels you are being disloyal or are looking” for a job, she said. “It’s very important that confidentiality is kept.”

Wednesday’s closed session has sparked emails from community activists speculating that the council was set to pick a city manager this week, a misconception dispelled by City officials.

“If you received an email giving the impression the Council will be announcing the selection of a new city manager at a special meeting on Oct. 26, that is incorrect,” Judy Franz, the City’s spokesperson wrote in an email this week.

For more than a week, residents have been weighing in on the selection process.

“We need a new City Manager, whose competence and integrity are unimpeachable and whose priority will not be to increase tax revenues, allow car dealers to expand, foster homeless dependency, bureaucratic mismanagement and all the other issues and conflicts of interest that have a negative impact on citizens who reside in this city,” stated an email to the council from Jonathan Mann, who has made numerous council runs.

“I would like a city manager who is aware of and sensitive to the needs of the common citizen over the needs of developers and commercial interests and who will ensure that the city staff conform to this ideal,” Lorainne Sanchez wrote via the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City Web site.

The candidate chosen by the council will likely not assume the post vacated by City Manager Susan McCarthy until the beginning of January, Mills said.

McCarthy resignation goes into effect December 8.

“It’s unlikely whoever we choose can come at the drop of a hat,” said Mayor Pam O’Connor.

O’Connor is hopeful that picking a candidate will be a challenge.

“I hope Santa Monica has attracted good candidates,” O’Connor said. “I hope the challenge is that we have to winnow through a lot of candidates.”

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