As of Tuesday, July 17, 2018
INDEPENDENCE — The strategy for hiring a new Independence city manager is taking shape.
On July 10 the Independence City Council met in a work session with Heather Gantz, the branch director for search firm Waldron’s Portland office.
Gantz presented councilors with a draft timeline which includes gathering input from stakeholders — community members and local businesses — about what they are seeking in the new city manager.
“It’s very important for me to get to know the community,” Gantz said.
Candidates will be asked all the same questions, so it’s important to know types of skills, traits and characteristics that would be a good fit for the community, staff and council, she said.
Gantz and her team want input from different stakeholders.
“We need to talk in detail about who’s going to be involved in those conversations,” Gantz. “Is it just staff? How much of staff? How much community input and involvement do you want? What does that look like?”
She distributed a sample survey to councilors at the July 10 meeting.
Councilors and Gantz discussed doing online and written surveys in English and Spanish.
“We want to make sure people have access to it and we also want to make sure that people are aware of it as an option and that we encourage participation in whatever form works best for them,” Gantz said.
She mentioned town hall options for people who are reluctant to complete surveys.
“That would be a good lead in, to have a community gathering,” said Councilor Marilyn Morton. “We’re getting ready to do another vision project. We did Vision 2020 and now we’re ready for Vision 2040.”
Mayor John McArdle said he would like the survey to include the street where the respondent lives.
He said he doesn’t need the whole address but that if everyone from a certain area is concerned about a specific thing, that would be good feedback.
Morton suggested including high school seniors. Because the surveys are expected to go out well before school starts, those seniors may get an email.
Morton also suggested Gantz speak with Central School District Superintendent Jennifer Kubista.
“We have a 35 percent Latino population,” McArdle said. “I want to make sure that we are positively reaching out to let people have the opportunity to participate. I appreciated the opportunity to have some of this in multiple languages.”
Gantz said she would rather adjust the timeline by a week or so to make sure they had time to give people multiple opportunities to participate.
“For the Latino population here, town halls are a little bit more successful (than flyers or surveys),” said Councilor Odilon Campos-Santos.
Councilors told Gantz about several churches in town.
Gantz said the best way to conduct the town halls is in small groups with a facilitator.
The survey does not have complicated questions, Gantz said, and not all of them need to be answered.
“I’m looking for consistency, common themes, repetitive information, things I’m hearing over and over again,” Gantz said. “We really try and focus on things we’re hearing over and over again.”
City recorder Karin Johnson asked Gantz for the town hall dates as soon as possible.
“We don’t have any hard data, but I’ve had several deaf people come to city hall and one of them said, ‘you know there’s a fairly large deaf community here.’”
Johnson wants to make sure an American Sign Language interpreter is scheduled.
McArdle asked for a brief definition of what a city manager does to be included on the survey, because, he said some people may not know.