Recruitment begins for Asheville city manager

Asheville city manager brochure
CHOSEN TO CHOOSE: City Council's hand-picked panel of community leaders will advise elected officials as they consider candidates for the city manager position. Screen capture from the city of Asheville

Candidates from across the country have until Monday, July 30, to apply for the most powerful staff position in Asheville city government. On July 3, the city released its recruitment brochure seeking a permanent successor for former City Manager Gary Jackson, whom Council unanimously dismissed in March in the aftermath of a police beating scandal.

The role, currently filled by interim City Manager Cathy Ball, oversees all of the city government’s daily operations and advises Council members as they develop long-term plans. Responsibilities include preparing Asheville’s more than $180 million budget, appointing department heads and ensuring the equitable enforcement of city policies and laws.

Assembled with help from Texas-based consulting firm Springsted|Waters, the recruitment brochure incorporates input from four public meetings, a staff meeting, a comment hotline and an online survey. A total of 124 survey responses were recorded through the city’s Open City Hall website, with 22 total attendees at the public meetings and 27 total staff attendees.

The public’s opinions come through most clearly in the “strategic leadership opportunities” section of the brochure. With items such as community-police relations, equity and social justice, affordable housing and strategies for smart growth (specifically including strategies to limit gentrification), the list addresses a cross section of Asheville’s most pressing issues.

The “desired capabilities and traits” section appears to focus more on the internal concerns of city staff. Candidates for the role should prepare to “foster a positive, innovative organizational culture that engages and empowers employees”; “develop objective and impartial working relationships with all City Council members”; “build a leadership team with shared values and clear expectations”; and “exert confidence and display the fortitude to say no.”

While the brochure does not list the salary range for the position, Jackson’s starting salary in 2005 was $140,000, and his pay as of December 2017 was $195,214.10. The new manager will also receive life, health and dental insurance, 401(k) contributions, Local Government Employee Retirement System contributions and relocation expenses if moving from out of the area.

Recruitment for the city manager position is starting later than staff had originally planned. The first version of the timeline estimated final candidate selection as taking place during the week of July 30, with announcement of the new manager by August; under the current timeline, candidate assessment won’t begin until the end of the month, and the manager won’t be announced until Sept. 20. The October-November window for the new hire actually beginning work remains unchanged.

Jaime Joyner, the city’s interim human resources director, said that the extended timeline was due to the scheduling of additional opportunities for community input. She added that the review of semifinalist candidates and finalist selection will take place during the week of Aug. 20. The city has not named the panel of key community leaders that will assist Council in reviewing applicant resumes.

As of July 11, the city had received eight applications. Joyner said the job has been advertised with organizations such as the International City/County Management Association, North Carolina League of Municipalities, Virginia Municipal League and National League of Cities. The city is also reaching out to prospective candidates personally by phone and email.

Those interested in applying for the position should visit the Springsted|Waters website (avl.mx/53p) to submit a resume and cover letter. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in public administration or related field (master’s preferred), with at least 10 years of high-level managerial experience in a complex organization. Finally, as the brochure notes, “experience managing rapid growth in a city with significant architectural structures and a thriving tourism industry is a plus.”

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and city government beat reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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3 thoughts on “Recruitment begins for Asheville city manager

  1. boatrocker

    Hey here’s an idea!
    Make sure the new manager is from FLA,
    couldn’t care less about living poor locals,
    has a secret sum’n sum’n fund for kickbacks for a
    home in a gated community far away in McWhitey
    County, wants un-regulated development for hotels,
    speaks like one of the cast from Jersey Shore,
    votes straight GOP ticket and writes a once a month love letter
    to the Koch Brothers.
    lols lulz etc.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Make sure it’s a person with REAL backbone and tenacity to control the city council and defend the local taxpayers from the ravages of too much public housing in Asheville, with total INeffective
    management and NO accountability. Evil in our midst and all they want is MORE of these death communities. WHO was the responsible person when 12 yr old Derrick Lee was murdered? People there SAW what happened. WHO was responsible ? WHO was IRRESPONSIBLE ?

  3. Robin Canuck

    Actually, the next Asheville City Manager will be a female or person of color. To keep the appearances of being unbiased, the finalist group will include at least one white male, but if I were betting; there’s no way I see Asheville hiring a white male for their top post.

    I can’t blame them though. Gary Jackson was wishy-washy on where he stood, he constantly threw staff under the bus, and only spoke up if he could lay blame or follow up on a subordinate. Did anyone ever hear Gary Jackson (or Cathy Ball for that matter) utter the phrase: “the buck stops with me”, or “I take responsibility”? I’ll bet you all of the journalists in Asheville can’t find an instance where Gary or Cathy owned up to their own responsibilities.

    I don’t care if the next City Manager is male or female; black, white, or green. What Asheville needs for it’s next City Manager is an experienced City Manager who will provide leadership where it’s badly needed, morals where they are failing, and control and composure to a Board that seems to have lost both.

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