City manager hire could come as early as Aug. 9

By Evan Goodenow -

A new Oberlin city manager might be chosen immediately after an Aug. 9 meet-and-greet with finalists for the job.

City council members previously said they would eliminate one candidate and have two finalists meet with the public before choosing. However, none were eliminated after private meetings with council July 21 and Monday.

Finance director and acting city manager Sal Talarico met for about 90 minutes on July 21. Lowell Crow, a city administrator from Illinois, and Sara Imhulse, a former Maryland town administrator, met for about 90 minutes each with council Monday.

Council president Ron Rimbert said candidates will interview in private with officials for about 30 minutes each on Aug. 9.

The public session is from 6-7:30 p.m. Candidates will make opening remarks for a few minutes and informally answer questions during a reception at which food and refreshments will be served.

“All three have diverse backgrounds and we’d like the opinion of the public,” Rimbert said.

In previous interviews, candidates were given questionnaires that included asking them to make a seven-to-10-minute presentation on a successful project they led.

There were also 20 questions to answer. Topics included budgeting, community and council relations, economic development, environmental initiatives, and management style.

The finalists were chosen from 43 applicants for the position, which pays approximately $120,000 annually.

Talarico, 53, of Parma, has been interim city manager since January, succeeding Eric Norenberg, who left in December. Norenberg, hired in 2007, took the 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 was hired in 2000 as finance director. He didn’t return a call Tuesday afternoon, but previously said he feels like his experience in Oberlin would serve him well as city manager and he will stay on as finance director if not selected.

Imhulse, 38, worked in Riverdale Park — a city of about 7,000 is located just outside Washington, D.C., with an approximately $7 million annual budget — from 2009 until June 30. She left shortly after it switched from a strong mayor to council-town manager form of government. Imhulse wouldn’t comment Monday and couldn’t be reached Tuesday.

Crow, 54, said Monday he enjoyed interviewing. Crow, who served in the Navy from 1980 until retiring as a captain and taking the reins in Monmouth, Ill., in 2014, said he would bring budgeting and engineering experience to the post.

He serves as finance and human resources director in Monmouth, a city of about 9,200 between Chicago and St. Louis. It has an approximately $20 million annual budget.

He said he is also familiar with working with a private college. Monmouth is home to the 1,300-student Monmouth College.

Crow, who arrived in Oberlin on Saturday with his wife Gwen, said they liked Oberlin’s restaurants and its proximity to Cleveland Hopkins Airport and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

“My wife and I fell in love with the community in just three days being here,” he said. “I look forward to the possibility of serving as city manager.”

The timeline for the search developed by recruiter Heidi Voorhees called for a hiring in August but Rimbert said council won’t rush.

“When it happens it happens,” he said.

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter

By Evan Goodenow