Story last updated at 3:11 p.m. Thursday, December 19, 2002

City manager search yields 29 candidates

Familiar faces line up for job

by Carey James
Staff Writer

One by one, city council members streamed into Homer City Hall on Tuesday to get the first look at the list of candidates for city manager.

With 29 candidates and more than 70 pages of resumes and application forms, it will likely take the council more than a brief glance to sort through the stack, but three familiar faces jump out of the crowd.

Homer's Public Works Director Carey Meyer is the only current city employee to apply for the position. Meyer, who has been with the city since 1999, noted on his application that he is up to speed on many of the issues facing Homer, and capable of working with the council.

"I believe that an organization should be managed by setting goals, involving all interested parties, developing a consensus and then empowering individuals to act," Meyer said in his cover letter. "I have a proven record of pro-actively involving employees and the public in decisions and projects undertaken by the Public Works Department."

Also among the applicants is Homer's former city manager, Phil Shealy, who was employed by the city from 1984 through 1990. Shealy, who left the Homer post to take a job as city manager of Bemidji, Minn., said Tuesday that he welcomes the opportunity to return to Homer.

"I would like to come back and be part of the exciting things happening in Homer," Shealy said, noting the town's tourism opportunities as well as the quality of life offered as points of interest.

On his application, Shealy noted that his experience in Homer and Alaska would be helpful in his job, saying the knowledge makes him an "ideal candidate able to hit the ground running."

A third Homer candidate, former U.S. Senate candidate Frank Vondersaar, applied for the position. While Vondersaar was unreachable by deadline, in an October interview with the Homer News, Vondersaar blamed Sen. Ted Stevens, who he alleges spies and harasses him, for his inability to hold a job using either his engineering or law degrees.

Also on the list are two candidates holding Harvard degrees in public administration and several candidates who are current city managers, at least two in Alaska communities. The wide range of backgrounds include former politicians and the former captain for Ryan International Airlines.

Councilman John Fenske said Wednesday he went through the stack of applicants and came up with 10 candidates who stood out from the crowd, including Meyer and Shealy.

"I think the council really has its job made immensilbly easier" by the number of qualified candidates who have applied, Fenske said. "We have to figure out which one of these people is able to meet the needs of the community."

Fenske invited city residents to take a look at the list of candidates and their applications using the provided binder in the city hall lower level lobby. Comment forms are available for the public.

"I do hope people go by and take a look at the list and make comments," said Fenske. "(The comments) carry a lot of weight for me."

The council debated various methods of including public input in the hiring process and settled on a plan to include two public members, as well as the council, in the hiring process. Some on the council had wanted a separate seven-member public hiring committee to look through the applications in parallel with the council. The two members of the public were not selected at the last council meeting.

The council has until Friday to submit a detailed ranking of each candidate on issues such as education, job experience and job history. Personnel Officer Sheri Hobbs said she would then create the first cut based on the council's rankings and would send out essay questions to those candidates.

The council meets again Jan. 13.

Carey James can be reached at cjames@homernews.com.

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