If you design it, they will come — city council members hope a job description and recruitment brochure they approved Monday will attract a strong city manager.
Implementing Oberlin’s Climate Action Plan, spurring economic development, reducing poverty, and improving relations with Oberlin College are among the attributes sought in the brochure.
Consensus building, citizen engagement, customer relations, delivering efficient services, and being a skilled negotiator are included in the skills sought in the job description.
“Candidates must possess an approachable, welcoming style with the community and staff and a genuine desire to be visible and engaged with all members of the community,” the description said. “A collaborative, team-oriented management style is essential.”
The brochure lists empathy, patience, a master’s degree, and 10 years of city management experience or equivalent education as necessary qualities.
“Candidates must have the courage of their convictions (and) be able to present their best professional advice and counsel to the elected officials,” the brochure said.
Besides job qualities sought, the brochure details Oberlin’s activist history including environmental and social justice initiatives. Also mentioned are downtown businesses, the industrial park, an outline of how Oberlin’s government works, and the chain of command.
The brochure and description were written by recruiter Heidi Voorhees, president of GovHR USA, the Illinois company being paid $21,500 to conduct the search. Voorhees met with council members, city department heads, and residents before writing the brochure and description.
At the request of councilman Bryan Burgess, language was added mentioning the ongoing formation of a stormwater utility program — infrastructure improvements to reduce flooding and water pollution. Also added was voters having approved all 45 levies or renewal levies requested since 1990.
Language deleted included a reference to five council members being able to remove a city manager as well as the “strained” relationship between the city and college leading to a lawsuit over parking outside the college’s $38 million Gateway hotel and conference center. A compromise over firefighter access to the hotel led to settlement of the lawsuit April 20.
The deletions weren’t enough for frequent council critic Tony Mealey, who said the brochure was too long. “This whole document is so darn wordy and it gets a little bit confusing,” he said.
The job search was in response to the December departure of Eric Norenberg, who quit to manage the city of Milford, Del., less than a year after being asked to resign in a letter signed by a majority of council members.
The Oberlin job pays about $120,000 depending on experience and qualifications. Norenberg, hired in 2007, earned $115,762 annually.
Finance director Sal Talarico has been serving as acting city manager since Norenberg’s departure. Talarico hasn’t said whether he’ll apply for the position. The application deadline is June 17.
The goal is to have the new city manager start by September or October, Voorhees previously said.
Ron Rimbert, council president, was on council when Norenberg was hired. Rimbert said before the meeting that the search process is lengthy but necessary.
He noted two new council members took office in January and had to get acclimated and a search firm had to be hired before recruitment could begin.
Then Voorhees had to meet with council and the community. “It’s quite a process,” Rimbert said.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Photos by Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Ron Rimbert, Oberlin city council president, said the recruitment process for a new city manager is lengthy but necessary work.