Three candidates with Oberlin ties are among the 41 applicants to become the next city manager.
Rick Flood, president of Solutions in Sustainability, a consultant to environmentally-friendly development projects, grew up in Oberlin and moved back in 2010. His company worked on a $48 million, 782-unit subdivision in Milwaukee and with Oberlin College and Ohio State University’s Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center on developing biogas production in the area, according to his resume.
Flood also worked on revising Oberlin’s Climate Action Plan in 2013 and serves on the board of education’s new facilities planning committee. He chaired the board’s subcommittee on examining what to do with Oberlin’s schools if they were replaced with a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school. Flood, who grew up in Oberlin and moved back in 2010, said he values the city’s character and diversity.
“I bring a lot of skills to the table that are unique,” he said. “Being well informed by being raised here, I know the community.”
Acting city manager Sal Talarico is another local candidate. Talarico, also Oberlin’s finance director, has worked for Oberlin since 2000.
He has been interim city manager since January succeeding Eric Norenberg who left in December. Norenberg, hired in 2007, took a city manger job in Milford, Del., less than a year after being asked to resign in a letter signed by a majority of council members.
Talarico said he would be the best candidate because his time in Oberlin has given him a good understanding of the community and allowed him to develop good relationships with “key stakeholders.” He said leading Oberlin is more complicated than in most comparably-sized cities because of the college and having a municipal court. Talarico said having many outspoken residents with a wide variety of opinions also makes governing more complex.
“That ‘s usually a good thing,” said Talarico, of Parma. “It takes time to get through issues but because of that, I think we usually end up with a better product.”
Candidate Kelly LaRosa also has has an Oberlin connection. LaRosa, Lorain County Habitat for Humanity executive director since 2011, worked for the city from 1998 to 2002. She served as assistant to the economic development director and assistant to the planning and zoning director.
LaRosa left to take a job as city planner in Elyria. She later worked as program director for New Sunrise Properties, an Elyria nonprofit company that helps find housing for mentally ill people as well as low- and middle-income people. She also did marketing and fundraising for the Nord Center while director of institutional advancement.
LaRosa said her experience working for nonprofits and in the public sector would make her a good city manager. She said her collaborative approach would help in Oberlin.
“There’s such a diverse group of people that all have interests and are wanting to have the best interests of the city but (are) needing somebody who can manage those conversations and bring people together,” LaRosa said.
Other area candidates include Robert Fowler, former Lorain safety/service director, and Nicole Ard, former Sandusky city manager. Out-of-state candidates include applicants from Florida, Illinois, and Maryland.
Recruiter Heidi Voorhees, president of GovHR USA, a Chicago-area company, is running the search for city council members.
She said a meeting with council has been tentatively set for July 14. Voorhees said she typically recommends about a dozen candidates to council and members may interview about a half-dozen candidates.
Council members have said they hope to hire a city manager late next month. The position pays roughly $120,000.
Voorhees redacted email addresses and phone numbers for candidates that the News-Tribune sought as part of an Ohio public records law request. Law Director Jon Clark said in an email that emails and addresses of applicants aren’t considered public records following a 2006 Ohio Supreme Court case.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.