The Kenai City Council wasted no time Wednesday night in whittling 15 applicants for city manager down to three.
They are: William B. Elliott of Milton-Freewater, Ore.; Chris Hladick of Dillingham; and Linda L. Snow of Petersburg.
"The three are all qualified, and I was pleased to see two Alaska residents in there," council member Joe Moore said.
He said council members narrowed down the choices by tossing the names of their four or five favorites into a hat and then started eliminating them from the bottom up.
"Of the 15 applicants, Snow got a vote from every council member," said council member Duane Bannock. "Hladick and Elliot both got multiple picks."
Bannock said the council members used their gut feelings to whittle the list down from the 10 who got votes. The process took about three hours.
"In the past, we scored each candidate numerically with several attributes that we thought were important, but that was cumbersome," Moore said. "It seemed to go smoothly as we worked our way around the table."
"With the information we had, I know we'll get a good candidate," Bannock said. "There's someone good in there."
n Elliott, from Milton-Freewater, Ore., was manager of that city of about 6,700 for almost five years, until he left in January.
In his supplemental letter to the Kenai council, he noted that he was asked to leave that job, and one other in his career.
"... (T)here is not any issue of impropriety or wrongdoing associated with these changes," he wrote. "Rather, they were just the normal course corrections of one council wanting another manager to direct their ship."
In 1995, he was city manager of Coos Bay, Ore., population 15,450, for seven months. He notes in his resume that his departure was a mutual agreement between the city council and him.
He served as city manager of The Dalles, Ore. (pop. 11,300), from November 1990 to January 1995, and for the city of Stafford, Ariz., (pop. 7,500), for seven years, from November 1983 to November 1990.
He also served as the treasurer and finance director in Stafford, beginning in 1981.
He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.
n Hladick has been city manager of Dillingham (pop. 2,400) since July 1994. Though he is still on the job, his contract expired on March 1, and he turned down a renewal offer from the council.
He previously applied for the Homer city manager position two years ago.
Before taking the Dillingham job, Hladick was city manager in Galena (pop. 592) for almost four years.
Prior to that he was a carpenter for seven years and occupied various other jobs after college, including snow-grooming, wildlands firefighting, oil field drilling and signalman trainee for the Norfolk and Western Railroad.
He has a bachelor's degree in environmental biology from Eastern Illinois University, in Charleston, Ill.
Hladick pointed out in is resume that Dillingham was $237,000 in the red and that cash flow was a negative $600,000 when he took the job there. He did not give any numbers at all about its current fiscal condition, though he did note many projects for which he obtained federal, state and local funding.
He also noted that he turned away a unionization effort by the city's employees after a year and a half of negotiations.
n Snow is the current city manager in Petersburg (pop. 3,387), a position she's held since 1994. She was city administrator in McGrath, (pop. 400), for the nine years before that.
She worked for a year as a permanent fund dividend specialist for the state Department of Revenue in Anchorage, and was the administrative director of the Central Peninsula Mental Health Center in Kenai from 1977 to 1980.
She is the only applicant with any experience in the central peninsula.
She also notes her involvement in forming the Women's Resource and Crisis Center in Kenai, as well as being a past board member and president.
She has a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Current Kenai City Manager Rick Ross, whose imminent departure necessitated the search for his replacement, was directed by the council Wednesday night to investigate the references and backgrounds of the three finalists.
"We figured he'd be the most qualified to do a background check, since he was the former police chief," Moore said Thursday morning.
"He is the perfect person to interrogate people," added council member Pat Porter.
Ross will bring his findings back to the council at its meeting on May 2, and the council will decide then if any or all of them will be asked to an in-person or telephone interview.
"I'm anxious to interview them," Porter said. "Looking good on paper is one thing, but in person it's another."
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