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Eight semifinalists in the running for Bainbridge public works director
Eight semifinalists have been chosen for a closer look as the city of Bainbridge Island continues its search for a new public works director.
City Manager Doug Schulze said the city's search consultant, Strategic Government Resources, received applications from 17 different states.
Six of the semifinalists are from Washington, with the other two hailing from Indiana and Texas.
"The fact that the most applications were received from Washington was a good sign," Schulze said. "It shows that there are people here in the state that are interested in working for the city of Bainbridge Island."
The city has been without a permanent public works director since Lance Newkirk was given the gate in April, and his last day was July 31.
John Cunningham has been serving since as interim director during the transition period.
The eight semifinalists are currently completing a five-question online interview.
Five or so finalists will be chosen from the pack on Oct. 1, and will be invited for interviews in mid-October.
But the temporary hire that some islanders hoped would take on the permanent job as public works director for the city of Bainbridge Island isn't one of the semifinalists.
Cunningham, the amicable and accessible former public works director for the city of Sammamish, has proven to be popular on Bainbridge inside and outside of city hall.
Schulze asked Cunningham to consider taking the full-time, permanent post, about six weeks after his arrival, but the time commitment of two years or more was too much.
"We definitely had a conversation and tried to twist his arm," Schulze said.
"He has done a great job for us," the city manager said.
Cunningham said he gave the proposal serious consideration before turning it down.
"The more we talked ... that was just too long of a commitment for me to make," he said.
"It was a hard decision," Cunningham added. "I've really, really enjoyed my time here."
"I think the staff is a pretty doggone good staff," he added.
"Are there things we need to improve on? Absolutely. They are willing, they are capable, of making changes," Cunningham said. "And they want to."
More than half of the candidates were from out of state.
There were three applicants each from California and Texas; two each from Oregon, Colorado and Florida; and one from Indiana. Seven were from Washington.
"I was very impressed with the pool of the candidates. From those that we selected to go on, even those that didn't, we had some very qualified individuals," Schulze said. "It was an impressive group."
The city hopes to bring a new public works director aboard by early December.
Schulze said Cunningham would stay to assist with the transition.