The search firm hired to find Haines’ next police chief and borough manager received 27 applications for chief and 34 for manager after an aggressive, weeks-long campaign. The firm whittled down the applicants to about 10 for each position.
The wealth of knowledge and experience in the applicants for both borough positions is impressive. There are past police chiefs from large cities, a federal air marshal, and the executive director from a large State of Alaska agency, just to name a few. But along with their work histories and schooling, all the candidates’ ambitions and skeletons were unveiled in detailed reports from the headhunters that include anything that might pop up on a background check. The search firm, Brimeyer Fursman, will narrow the field again in the coming weeks, to between three and five finalists. Next Tuesday, Richard Fursman will be in Haines to meet with borough officials, staff, and the Public Safety Commission for an update. Borough Clerk Julie Cozzi has been working closely with the company. She says she’s impressed with the professionalism of the search firm.
“I’m sure that they put strong effort into getting as high a caliber of applicants as they could,” she says.
Cozzi says, in a perfect world, she’d like to see the next manager stay for five or 10 years, or longer.
“Turnover is just difficult, no matter what position it is. But I think that borough manager can be especially challenging.”
Fursman has a two-year guarantee for both positions, but Cozzi says it takes at least that long to really get to know the intricacies of the position. Cozzi herself has had to fill in as acting manager because of the turnover in recent years.
“There are just so many things that come along and some things that only happen once year, or even every two years,” she says. “So, you really need to be in a job, that’s this type of job for a certain length of time to not only understand the job, but understand the community.”
Three manager applicants currently work and live in Alaska: The executive director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Paul Dauphinais, and the chief operating officer of REACH in Juneau, Brandon Cullum. Susan Jensen, one of two women who applied, is the operations manager of the Bayshore Owners Association in Anchorage.
As well, two of the applicants that applied for the police chief position are currently in the state.
One of them is Haines’ police officer Brayton Long. He’s been on duty in Haines for about six months and worked as an officer in Skagway for a few years before that. The other Alaskan hopeful is the current Hoonah Police Chief, William “Dave” McKillican.
Acting chief Josh Dryden says he supports Long as a candidate, but he’ll ultimately back whichever applicant is the right fit for Haines.
After briefly skimming the top 10 shortlisted applicants, Dryden says he can see a few that definitely don’t seem qualified to serve in Haines. But, he’s looking forward to meeting contenders in person to get a better picture. Dryden will have the opportunity to give his input to the Public Safety Commission, which will make a recommendation to interim borough manager Brad Ryan. After Ryan makes his choice, he’ll bring it to the assembly for confirmation. The new manager, however, will be chosen by the assembly.
The reports from Brimeyer Fursman are exceptionally detailed, with pages of work history, written evaluations and personal background information. Fursman says in a letter to the mayor and assembly that he personally interviewed and screened all of the shortlisted candidates. Of the 10 police chief hopefuls, four have filed for bankruptcy, while a couple of others have been involved in questionable incidents resulting in forced resignations, or failed probationary periods from other public safety jobs. One manager applicant filed for bankruptcy, while a couple of others had been involved in civil lawsuits.
Interviews for both police chief and manager candidates are scheduled for May 13 and 14. Fursman will be in Haines on April 19 to go over the current lists of candidates.