OCEANSIDE — Oceanside is one step closer to hiring a new city manager after a closed session meeting was held to review applications Wednesday.
The city launched a nationwide search following the resignation of former city manager Steve Jepsen in February.
While not much can be shared about the 36 to 40 potential candidates who are vying for the job, council members discussed what they are looking for in a city manager.
Councilman Jerry Kern said he is looking for a candidate with city manager experience, or assistant city manger know-how of a large city.
“We’re a very dynamic city,” Kern said. “This can not be their first rodeo.”
Kern added the city manager needs to be open, honest, communicate well with all council members, and understand the city budget.
He said the former city manager had all those traits.
“Steve was that guy,” Kern said.
Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery stressed the ability to work with all city council members was key.
Kern said the goal for the closed session meeting is to narrow down applications to the top 12.
The list of candidates will then be whittled down to about six that City Council, the interim city manager and city attorney will interview in person.
“We’re hoping to pick half a dozen people we want to talk to,” Kern said.
Interim City Manager Michelle Lawrence did not apply for the position, and will return to her former position as deputy city manager once a hire is made.
Mayor Jim Wood said he wants to include Lawrence and City Attorney John Mullen in the interview and review process because they will work closely with the new city manager.
All council members spoken to said it’s important that they are in agreement on the hire.
Jepsen was hired on in a 3-2 vote by a prior City Council in October 2013, with Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voting no.
His resignation was also accepted in 3-2 vote by the current City Council, with Kern and Councilman Jack Feller voting no.
Another point council members shared was that they were not in a rush to find someone to fill the position, but were more concerned with taking the time to find the right fit.
“If we’re not satisfied with the candidates, we’re not going to pick any of them,” Wood said.
Wood added the city decided to hire from within when none of the candidates fit the bill in 2007. Peter Weiss was hired as city manager and served until 2013. Weiss began working for the city in 1986, and continues to work a city consultant.
A decision on the new city manager is expected in July.