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Thu, June 27

Interviews for City Manager closed to public

Michael Lamar, Jeff Cantrell, William Stephens and Gary Edwards

Michael Lamar, Jeff Cantrell, William Stephens and Gary Edwards

PRESCOTT – In a series of three meetings this week, the Prescott City Council will conduct closed-door interviews with the four finalists for Prescott City Manager.

The interviews will culminate a months-long search, which began in May when current City Manager Craig McConnell announced his resignation.

The finalists – all men with experience managing cities and counties around the country – remain from an original field of 58 applicants, and a pool of nine semifinalists.

The four top applicants were invited to Prescott for in-person interviews after being announced by the Prescott City Council on Aug 5.

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, the city posted agendas on its website for three executive sessions: 2 p.m. Thursday; 8:30 a.m. Friday; and 1 p.m. Friday. All of the meetings will take place in the lower-level conference room at Prescott City Hall.

Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg earlier noted that the interviews would not include a public component, and the meeting agendas reflect that.

All three of the agendas list the names of each of the four finalists, and City Clerk Dana DeLong said the council would interview two of the finalists on Thursday, with the other two scheduled for Friday morning.

The Friday afternoon meeting was scheduled to allow the council to conduct follow-up interviews, if needed.

Through a public records request, The Daily Courier acquired copies of the finalists’ resumes and cover letters. The finalists and their backgrounds include:

• Michael Lamar, county manager in Morgan County, Georgia, from 2005 to present. Previous experience includes working as city manager in Trenton, Florida, from 1999 to 2005, and as staff liaison in the county manager’s office in Volusia County, Florida, from 1996 to 1999.

In his cover letter, Lamar referred to “significant parallels” between his current community and Prescott. “One of the most striking of these is both communities offer the first rate quality of life associated with a small-town atmosphere,” he wrote.

Lamar added that he prides himself on “my ability to lead an organization that strikes the right balance between the protection and preservation of this first rate quality of life with necessary growth and development.”

• Jeff Cantrell, city manager in Chanute, Kansas, from 2015 to present. Prior to the Chanute job, Cantrell worked as city administrator in in Louisburg, Kansas, from 2007 to 2014, and as director of neighborhood services in Leawood, Kansas, from 1998 to 2007.

In his cover letter, Cantrell says he has 22 years of experience “that would align well with the operational aspects of your city and other community resources.”

Along with citing experience in economic development, tourism, and regional water resources, Cantrell describes himself as “a seasoned professional in leading staff and marshalling resources dedicated to airports, water distribution, police, fire, public fiber network, planning, zoning, refuse, landfill, sewer, golf course, information services, legal services, human services, engineering, and public works.”

• William Stephens, city manager in Benson, Arizona, from 2014 to present. Previous experience includes U.S. Air Force Reserve command, 434th Mission Support Group, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Kokomo, Indiana, from 2013 to 2014, and U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, 315th Mission Support Group, Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, from 2008 to 2013.

A retired colonel with the U.S. Air Force, Stephens describes himself as “politically savvy yet apolitical in my day to day approach of handling daily issues and interpersonal relationships.”

Comparing his experience as an Air Force Base (Group) Commander to managing city government, Stephens adds, “As a result, I am an elite administrator, leader, executive strategist, and adroit advisor seeking both challenge and opportunity.”

• Gary Edwards, city administrator in Sedalia, Missouri, from 2011 to present. Previous experience includes working as town manager in Wickenburg, Arizona, from 2007 to 2011; and city manager in Moberly, Missouri, from 2004 to 2007.

After working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as chief of staff and communications director in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in state government in Jefferson City, Missouri, Edwards said he made “a mid-life decision to finish work on my MPA (master of public administration) degree and settle in city government.”

He refers to his “broad public sector management background,” which, he says, “gives me a well-rounded approach toward long-range planning, citizen engagement, economic development, project management, and financial development skills.”

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