Paradise Valley begins quest for next top official

A statue of former Paradise Valley resident and Arizona icon, Barry Goldwater, illustrates characteristics of the municipality. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Efforts are under way to recruit the next town manager for the Town of Paradise Valley.

On July 19, town council met for an initial kick-off conversation to begin searching for a town manager. The meeting, which lasted less than one hour, mostly discussed the next steps, future meeting dates for council and what details to include in marketing materials for the position.

Kevin Burke, who has served as Paradise Valley town manager for about four years, announced his departure in June. His last day is set for Aug. 11.

The town manager is responsible for overall administrative leadership within Paradise Valley necessary for the implementation of council policies, administration of the organization and delivery of services to the community.

Paradise Valley is utilizing the services of Sacramento-based CPS HR, the same firm used to recruit Mr. Burke several years ago.

Senior HR Consultant, Josh Jones, was present at the meeting to guide council members through a proposed timeline and draft brochure, and answer any questions.

“We’re kicking off tonight,” Mr. Jones said to the council.

“We’ll establish communication expectations, talk about ideal candidates you’re seeking. You’ve got the brochure — the primary marketing document — we want that to be exactly how you want it.”

The brochure outlines characteristics, qualities and figures of Paradise Valley, as well as explains what types of issues or projects the next town manager will be working through, Mr. Jones explained.

Councilwoman Julie Pace requested including information about the type of municipality Paradise Valley is — residents and resorts, with no property tax — into the pamphlet.

“One of the most interesting things I find is what are the personality traits that will make this person successful with your council and your town?” Mr. Jones asked.

“Truth be told, we will get a lot of candidates who can do the job, without question, but really the question is who can do the job your way, the way you want it done? And, who’s going to be a good fit, culturally for you? Those personality traits will make them successful.”

Councilman Mark Stanton suggested the characteristic of customer service oriented for the brochure, while councilman David Sherf noted the importance of a town manager working with Paradise Valley residents.

“Our residents expect a seat at the table,” Mr. Sherf said.

“When we have an issue that is not within the purview of council, we are able to tap experts in town to help us solve the problem. My point on that is we may find a town manager who wants to solve all problems themselves or in-house, I’m not sure that make sense.”

In addition, council discussed job advertisements, candidate screenings in September, interviews and background checks.

“In-person interviews can take many different forms,” Mr. Jones said.

“I’ve seen as any as three panels before, where we have a citizen panel, staff panel and town council panel. We can do open houses — a wide variety of options to vet these candidates in different situations and different moods.”

Most town manager recruitments take about four months, Mr. Jones said, noting that Paradise Valley’s three-month timeline could be an advantage.

“Momentum is really key to keeping these candidates keyed in and interested in the process, so this timeline will work to our advantage, I think,” he explained.

Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner, who is leading the search, says the next town manager will be working with a top-notch group.

“We’re really privileged that the next town manager will be flanked and supported by a council that is energized and willing to work hard for the goals of the town, but also a really welcoming and great culture of staff that’s a can-do type of environment with a lot of accountability, which I think is a great thing,” he said.

Mr. Sherf recalled when the town was last seeking a town manager, the candidate pool was excellent.

“I think we had four, five, maybe six to review,” he said. “My recollection is all of them were pretty damn good. I’m hopeful you’ll be able to provide as many good candidates this time as you did last time.”

Mr. Jones agreed.

“In a town like this, I think there will be no shortage,” he said. “That will hopefully be the hardest part, narrowing it down and finding the right fit.”

Paradise Valley is seeking an interim town manager while the permanent search is going on. On July 11, Paradise Valley Town Council announced Ken Buchanan, Cynthia Seelhammer and Brian Dalke as finalists to be interviewed for a temporary position.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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