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With 3 Yelm City Administrator candidates withdrawing, what have we learned

Public Safety Building housing Council Chambers, Yelm

* Mayor JW Foster inherited a mess of personnel issues from former Mayor Ron Harding
* Mayor Foster had to fill positions for a Public Works Mgr, Clerk, Building Official
* Permanent City Administrator position now vacant for 13 months to-date
* Interim City Administrator Brandon’s contract ends tomorrow, mayor to do 2 jobs
* 3 Yelm City Administrator candidates withdrew after being interviewed
* Prothman Co. to provide more City Administrator candidates for consideration

Interim Mayor JW Foster has had his hands full in the almost 2 months since being inaugurated. He has done a stellar job in dealing with so many of the city’s personnel vacancies left in the wake of resignations, retirements, and open positions. As far as the search for a City Administrator replacement, here is what we have learned at this point:

1. Low salary range now adjusted
Mayor Foster stated the city’s original salary range was too low compared to other similar-sized cities, which has now been rectified:
Read more from the Craigslist post.

2. Mayor Harding did not conduct proper ‘due diligence’ – first candidate Chatwin withdrew
If former Mayor Harding had done his homework of candidate Stefan Chatwin, he would known about allegations of Chatwin’s mishandling city funds in Hayden, Idaho and other issues. In an embarrassing turn for Harding, Chatwin withdrew his name for consideration after being offered the job. With almost a year without a permanent administrator, Harding finally turned to his city council to approve hiring a professional talent recruitment firm, Prothman Company.
Read more

3. Adam Lincoln. Lakewood Assistant City Manager – second candidate to withdraw
After the interview process on September 8, one of three excellent Prothman Company candidates withdrew his name from consideration.
Mr. Lincoln shared with me how the city should be using social media more to tell city hall’s story, rather than just the news through the local newspaper and blog. I agree and was thrilled to see Mayor Foster allowed the Police Dept. to have a Facebook page, immediately after Mayor Harding left, which has been long overdue. Harding had a clamp-down on any such communication with constituents, of which Mr. Lincoln was well aware.
Read more

4. Melissa Evans, Las Vegas Sr. Economic Dev. Specialist – 3rd candidate to withdraw
After JW Foster selected Evans for the post, she also withdrew her name from consideration.
* Ms. Evans brought a wealth of understanding about what Yelm must do to diversify the city’s revenue stream, which she said must be the top priority [I agree!].
* She said the city should be focused on growing the economy rather than ‘roof tops.’ [I agree & totally opposite of Mayor Harding’s grow, grow, grow policies of housing developments and ignoring businesses, giving Yelm the nickname of being “non-business friendly!”]
* Evans spoke of Yelm needing workforce development, enticing businesses to want to move here saying, “Pushing the workforce element would make Yelm more attractive.”
* She said Yelm needs to transform from a bedroom community into a place where people also can work in good-paying jobs.
* Evans also noted Community Development needs an “Ombudsman” to be more receptive to the public.
Read more

5. Interim City Administrator Bill Brandon leaves September 30.
Yelm’s contract with Prothman Company for Interim City Administrator Bill Brandon expires September 30. Brandon was originally supposed to be here for only a few months and has been here for over half a year. He has done a magnificent job in handling a unique set of issues, including the resignation of Mayor Harding and subsequent new management direction under Interim Mayor Foster. I applaud him for his outstanding contribution to our community during a difficult time. He has been a beacon of light guiding the city!
Read more

Bottom Line:
Yelm’s City Administrator is an “at-will position,” meaning they can be terminated for almost any reason. I am certain many candidates look to this job and see Mayor Foster is an interim mayor for a year, then he may not choose to run again next year or there may be a new mayor elected, and that elected mayor may want to choose their own city administrator. That has to be a major deterrent to accepting this position, which the Prothman Company will have to address with the next round of candidates.
As of Monday, October 3rd, the City of Yelm will return to the mayor performing two jobs: his own and as acting city administrator (without pay).

The search for a permanent, full-time Yelm City Administrator continues!

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2016 at 7:05 am | Permalink

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One comment

  1. This is an eye opening post, esp. the comments from Melissa Evans. This pro-house anti-business attitude was what drove us to start the Yelm Business Association. My hat is off to Ron Harding for leaving Yelm so that we can begin to build this City into something we can all be proud of!

    Comment by Tom Dewell on October 1, 2016 at 5:49 pm

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