Brad Ryan and Debra Schnabel at preliminary interviews with the assembly. (Emily Files)

Brad Ryan and Debra Schnabel at preliminary interviews with the assembly. (Emily Files)

In about a month, the Haines Assembly will choose between two local candidates for the job of borough manager.

The assembly held preliminary interviews with three applicants last week. On Tuesday, they voted to continue the process with just Brad Ryan and Debra Schnabel, removing out-of-town candidate Patrick Jordan from the running.

Jordan is a Michigan county administrator who previously worked in municipal leadership in Unalaska and Bristol Bay.

Ryan is the Haines public facilities director who is currently serving as interim manager.

Schnabel is director of the Haines Chamber of Commerce and a former assembly member.

There was little discussion about dropping Jordan as a finalist. It was a unanimous decision. Assembly members have said from the start that they favored hiring local if possible.

The assembly talked about what process to follow from here.  The original plan was for the manager finalists to go through three more interviews: one with the assembly, one with members of the public, and one with borough staff.

It’s similar to what the assembly did last year, when it was going through the manager search process with an outside consultant at the reigns. All the finalists at that time were not local.

Some assembly members questioned whether they needed such a thorough course of interviews because people already know Ryan and Schnabel.

But Assemblyman Tom Morphet said the community and staff meetings are still important.

“I think we think we know the candidates, and I think a lot of people have opinions of the candidates,” Morphet said. “But I think we could use these forums as an opportunity to look with fresh eyes…and I think it would be a grave mistake to assume we already know everything that there is to be known.”

The next round of interviews won’t happen for about a month because of an assembly member and candidate traveling out of town.

The community and staff forums will take place April 24. On April 25, the assembly will conduct interviews and then deliberate on who to hire as Haines’ next manager.

The most recent permanent manager, Bill Seward, was fired in a 4-2 vote during his six-month evaluation in December. Seward is now seeking severance pay and considering a wrongful termination lawsuit against the borough.