Opinion

Rug under new admin may get a tug

We’re glad that someone has mentioned to the four finalists for Bainbridge’s new city administrator that in less than two years, they may be looking for a new job.

As noted in a recent letters column, citizens led by the Bainbridge Resource Group are exploring a vote to change the island’s form of government from Council-Mayor to Council-Manager. Assuming the group drums up enough petitions needed to put the measure on the fall ballot, such a change presumably would go into effect with the end of Darlene Kordonowy’s mayoral term.

The convergence of events – new administrator about to be picked, even as islanders may phase out the position – was raised by one of our readers this week, who commented: “Any serious candidate is going to be leaving a current position of some merit. They are not going to make that choice without researching the community, and are soon going to find out about the dysfunction/petition. The City Admin you want to hire to work for a Mayor is different than the one you want to work for a CC. In any case, any decent candidate, it would seem to me would want to know just who they will be working for six months down the track.”

Indeed, although we’re not sure ourselves of the different skill sets that come into play for each. A city manager would presumably need to be a stronger presence in City Hall, directly responsible for carrying out policy handed down by the council for fear of unemployment. An administrator, by contrast, might bring much the same skill set – managing department heads, budget-building, personnel decisions, meeting with the public – but the post seems more of an intermediary between the executive and legislative. As such, it’s insulated from the council and can function with a bit more autonomy, at the mayor’s behest.

Why council-manager? The theory is that it prevents the sort of internecine warfare between a council and mayor as the island has seen over much of the past decade. So which should the city be looking for in its next administrator?

Maybe it’s on the right track. Several of the four finalists have previous experience as city managers. John Fischbach ran cities in Colorado, Illinois and Washington. Steve Burkett, meanwhile, held city manager posts in Washington, Colorado, Florida and Oregon.

While their interest in the administrator post may seem outside their experience, maybe the positions aren’t that disparate after all. We recall that Bainbridge’s former interim administrator, Lee Walton, also bounced back and forth in manager and administrator positions over his career.

Interestingly – perhaps predictably – all four of the finalists said they’d be comfortable making the switch should island voters decide to trade in one government for another.

Should the change happen, we guess the incumbent can apply for the job.

Community Events, April 2014

Add an Event
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Apr 11 edition online now. Browse the archives.