Commissioners during a special meeting on Tuesday narrowed the search for a new police chief and a new city administrator down to two candidates for each position.
Commissioners during an hour-long executive session hammered out who they wanted to conduct interviews with for the positions. They started with a list of seven names — three for police chief and four for city administrator — before the executive session and emerged afterward with two for each job.
Interviews with the final four candidates will be scheduled in the coming weeks, Mayor Dorothy Childress said. The city is aiming to have a police chief hired sometime in February, she said. No specific timeline has been set for the city administrator position.
Before the executive session, Childress announced the names of all the candidates that a search committee, formed in August, had handed over to commissioners in December.
The three candidates for the police chief position were Wilmon Smith, Donald Rhodes and Landis Garrison.
The four candidates for city administrator were Jonathan Batt, Marie Gelles, Larry Kuciemba and Harold Emrich.
Childress and other commissioners refused to name the finalists they settled on during the executive session, or give additional details such as where those people work and live.
“I don’t know if I can name them, there will be two finalists for each position and we plan to interview all of them, but if we release names and information and they should say ‘I’m not interested’ might put us in a bind,” Commissioner Monica Cantrell said.
“The same goes for their current positions — if we release where they live, they might not want their current employers to know they’re looking for new employment.”
The Texas Public Information Act requires most public organizations, including cities, to disclose the names and other resume information of people applying for government jobs. The Daily News on Monday filed a request under that law for the information, but the city didn’t comply with the law on that request.
The city has been looking for people to fill the two positions since this summer, after commissioners re-created the city administrator position, which was originally closed in the ‘90s, and Childress fired John Hamm, who had been police chief. The search committee formed to create a list of potential candidates was tightlipped about who they landed on, as were commissioners.
Officials repeatedly declined to release the names of the candidates until the meeting today.
When asked why the city hadn’t responded to a record request from The Daily News that asked for the names of the candidates, City Secretary Lucy Dieringer said she hadn’t known the names were public record until the city’s attorney told her they were on Monday night.