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Council Postpones City Manager Search, Hoping For More Applicants

Dec 6, 2017

Interim City Manager Nancy Peterson is under contract until mid-January, but her full-time replacement may not arrive until March or April.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

The City Council has postponed the search for Unalaska’s next city manager until January.

On-site interviews were scheduled to take place in the next two weeks. But on Tuesday, the council voted 4-2 to extend the recruitment timeline at least another a month.

The delay comes at the recommendation of Interim City Manager Nancy Peterson.

She said the original list of eight qualified candidates has dwindled to three. The council weeded out four they deemed “second tier,” and then another withdrew his application.

“When we had four candidates, we were comfortable presenting them to you and having a broad enough pool," Peterson told the council. "Now that we’ve lost 25 percent of that pool, we just want you to have everything you need in order to make this important decision.”

Councilor Dennis Robinson agreed. He said more time will allow more candidates to come forward.

“We owe it to this community to do the best we can and include as many applicants as possible,” said Robinson.

The dissenters were Councilors Dave Gregory and Roger Rowland, who argued that added time doesn’t guarantee better candidates.

Rowland said the city should have stuck to its original timeline to hold on to the applicants it already has — and to ensure the interim manager is around to oversee the hiring process.

“I think we have a really great slate of candidates," he said. "I would have been happy with three, and I’m a little concerned [about] you being able to hang with us to the end, Nancy.”

Peterson is only under contract until mid-January. But with the city now accepting applications through Jan. 15, her full-time replacement may might not arrive until March or April.  

Asked if she’s willing to stay that long, Peterson demurred.

“Well, I can’t guarantee that," she said. "But we will make sure that there’s no problems with the city structure.”

Peterson said she'll present councilors with a revised recruitment schedule at their next meeting Dec. 12.