The Haines Borough will advertise statewide for a new borough manager. The assembly voted to post the job for 30 days in Alaska. There are already two local candidates, but the assembly decided to cast a wider net.
The borough lost its top administrator in December, when the assembly voted 4-2 to fire Bill Seward. This month, they chose Public Facilities Director Brad Ryan as interim manager. He served in that role last year for six months. At that time, Ryan wasn’t interested in the permanent job. But now, he is.
A handful of residents urged the assembly to hire Ryan as permanent manager. Haynes Tormey called it a ‘golden opportunity.’
“Yeah, we made some mistakes with the last manager, but we have an opportunity right now,” said Tormey. “It’s right in front of us to try on a set of work boots and see if they’re comfortable. If they are, we can lace them up and keep them right where we want them.”
Assemblyman Mike Case also favored Ryan for the job.
“I am ready right now to make a motion to hire Brad as manager on a permanent basis and get this over with,” Case said.
But, he said, he didn’t want to rush the decision, especially if the assembly wasn’t all on the same page. Case also praised the qualifications of the other local resident who has expressed interest in the job, Debra Schnabel.
Assembly member Tresham Gregg, who called in to the meeting, said he would rather advertise for the job instead of jumping to hire Ryan right away.
“Just by saying ‘well, Brad’s done a great job so far,’ and let it go at that is not taking advantage of the opportunity for community discussion,” Gregg said.
Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer suggested advertising the opening statewide.
“I think we do have two local candidates that we’re all very interested in,” Friedenauer said. “I just think it’s appropriate to do our due diligence to advertise statewide…I don’t know, that just seems appropriate to me.”
The assembly spent some time debating whether they should involve Brimeyer Fursman, the recruitment firm the borough hired last year for about $30,000 to lead the search for manager and police chief.
“I cringe at the thought of going through a Fursman-type process again,” said Assemblyman Ron Jackson said.
He said going through another detailed, long-winded process might not be worth it, especially since there are already two local candidates.
Brimeyer Fursman’s contract included an 18-month guarantee. Seward was fired after just six months. But according to interim manager Ryan, Richard Fursman says the guarantee does not apply in this case because it is contingent on all of the phases of the process being complete, which Fursman says did not happen. One of the phases, called ‘onboarding,’ in which Fursman comes to Haines to work with the manager on his transition, did not happen because of weather issues and scheduling conflicts.
Assemblyman Tom Morphet said they still might be able to use Fursman as a resource.
“My idea with Fursman is to say to Fursman, ‘Look, we think you owe us a little bit. Can you get us some names of some experienced municipal managers who are interested in working here?'” Morphet said.
But the other assembly members were not enthusiastic about involving the recruitment firm. The assembly voted to advertise the job in Alaska for 30 days, with no mention of Brimeyer Fursman. It passed 5-1, with Morphet opposed.