City manager search narrows to three

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The Sealy City Council is getting closer to naming a city manager, as the race narrowed to just three hopefuls last week after Copperas Cove City Manager Andrea Gardner withdrew her application.

Still in the running for the city’s highest position are Stephen Ashley, who most recently served as city manager for Spring Valley Village; Debi Lee, manager for Ruidoso, N.M.; and Lloyd Merrell, who served for 26 years at the helm of Madisonville, Ky.

A meeting was planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, after The Sealy News went to press, at which the council was posted to extend an offer – but a formal announcement is not expected until the Jan. 23 meeting. Check the newspaper’s website and Facebook page for the latest breaking news. City council interviewed the remaining finalists Monday, and staff members provided a city tour to each of the hopefuls.

About $121,000 is budgeted for the city manager position, said Interim City Manager Warren Escovy.

Escovy, the city’s planning and community development director, has been serving since Larry Kuciemba’s contract was terminated in late May. Escovy did not apply for the permanent post.

The Sealy City Council selected Strategic Government Resources (SGR) to conduct and manage the nationwide search that resulted in an outstanding pool of candidates. The City received 33 applications from individuals in nine states, with 20 of the applicants having city manager or assistant city manager experience.

Candidate vetting included a comprehensive questionnaire, online interviews, a psychometric assessment, a thorough media search and a rigorous background investigation.

“Council is being very cautious and very prudent,” Mayor Janice Whitehead said last week. “We want to make sure we bring in the right person.”

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