In a split vote May 4, Missouri City City Council decided each council member will submit the names of their top five preferences for city manager during a May 8 special meeting.
According to a motion made by Council Member Vashaundra Edwards and approved by Council Members Cheryl Sterling and Chris Preston and Mayor Yolanda Ford, HR Director Martin Russell will further narrow the applicants down to the top five who receive the most votes. Council will then move forward with screening, vetting and interviewing these five candidates.
In an email May 7, Russell confirmed that this will be council’s process going forward.
“Council members will provide me with their top five candidates during the open city council meeting on Friday,” Russell said.
While Edwards’ motion initially had members submit their five preferences to Russell via email, City Attorney E. Joyce Iyamu said the action of submitting names to Russell is essentially a vote and recommended that it occur in an open meeting.
Ford raised concerns about these applicants' names being made public during the May 4 meeting.
“I just want to make sure the applicants are notified prior to their names being put out to the public realm,” Ford said.
Ford said so far, the city has received resumes and applications from approximately 50 people.
Missouri City has been without a city manager since a majority of council voted Feb. 24 to remove Anthony Snipes from the role.
Council’s decision to move forward with the process was not unanimous.
Council Members Jeffrey Boney, Floyd Emery and Anthony Maroulis, the same members who voted against terminating Snipes’ employment, voted against Edwards’ motion. Boney, Emery and Maroulis said during the May 4 meeting they will not submit their top five preferences to Russell but will instead submit the names of all the applicants.
“I just want to again confirm that I’m not going to be the arbitrator of who those top five are out of those 40 or 50 that we have,” Emery said. “So what I’m going to be doing is sending over to HR the 40 applicants that I think need to go up through the search firm and be vetted.”
Missouri City City Council originally voted in March to use an executive search firm to aid in their search for a city manager.
At the May 4 council meeting, council heard presentations from three potential executive search firms. In a split vote on a motion by Sterling, council decided to contract with Baker Tilly for limited services related to the city manager search.
“We’ve done basically all the legwork,” Sterling said. “I would like to go with a selective [number] of services as determined by council as opposed to going and paying all of the money for the firm.”
Boney disagreed and said that firms can identify candidates through their internal databases and existing contacts that the city alone cannot reach.
“I believe that it’s important that we search for any and all candidates that are out there because we want the very best,” Boney said. “Just because we received 40 or 50 applications because of our efforts doesn’t mean that is all of the people that would have an interest. ... If we are going to hire an executive search firm, then, I want to hire an executive search firm.”
Boney also said he believed council was in no position to talk about spending money on a search firm, citing that it paid Snipes more than $300,000 to terminate his contract early.
Ford said an executive search firm will still be utilized and that the top five candidates who come out of the May 8 meeting will be passed along to the firm for a background check and other vetting.
According to Edwards’ motion, council could begin screening and interviewing candidates as early as this weekend.
The item the May 8 agenda states that council will submit, consider and discuss city manager candidates for additional screening.
Members of the public can listen to the meeting audio live starting at 6 p.m. May 8 here.