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City manager search narrowed to two finalists

Interim city manager on the list

Columbia City Manager search

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The City of Columbia is considering two final candidates for the position of city manager

The city is still searching for a city manager to take over after former City Manager Mike Matthes resigned from his position on Nov. 20, 2018. Matthes tendered his resignation in a one-line email to the city council. 

Current interim City Manager John Glascock and Jim Palenick, who served as city administrator of Racine, Wisconsin, are the two finalists.  

The two will participate in an on-site interview process on July 10 and 11. 

"On July 10, the candidates will have individual interviews with each council member and the mayor, a community tour, candidate sessions with senior staff and a public reception," according to a press release sent by the city. "On July 11, candidates will be available to the press and will conclude with a closed-session interview with the entire Council. The finalists will also undergo additional vetting that includes rigorous reference and background checks."

"The City Council promised the residents of Columbia a transparent, nationwide candidate search and we are pleased with the results," said Columbia Mayor Brian Treece . 

In February, the city brought in consultants to stakeholders in the search to fill the position. At that time, consultants were looking to make an offer to a candidate by mid-May and have that person begin the job on July 1. However, the new timeline for the position has not yet been determined. 

There will be a public reception on July 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Columbia City Hall. 

Glascock has worked as Columbia's interim city manager since November following Mike Matthes' resignation. Glascock started with the city in 2003, becoming Public Works director in 2005 and deputy city manager in 2015.

Palenick started his job in Racine, a city 45 minutes south of Milwaukee, in 2017. He has worked in five different cities since 2003, according to a job application he submitted in 2016 for another city manager position.

Fifth Ward councilman Matt Pitzer told ABC 17 News he looked forward to learning more about the leadership roles each plans on taking, and how they will fill key roles in Columbia such as police chief.

"Building that team and making those strong hires I think is really important," Pitzer said.

Palenick sued the city of Rio Rancho, New Mexico in 2008 over his departure two years earlier. The New Mexico Supreme Court sided with the city, saying Palenick made misleading statements about his job status while taking a $110,000 severance package from the city in December 2006. He later accused the city of violating the state's open meetings law when council members discussed his job, and demanded back pay.

Mayor Brian Treece said a lack of diversity within the city manager position nationwide contributed to a lack of diversity within their candidate pool. The council said previously it wanted a search firm with experience in putting together diverse hiring choices. Treece said he is interested in each candidates' approach to diversity in city government.

"I hope that whichever candidate we do select has a commitment to the same diversity that the council shares and to really build the city government that looks like the community it serves," Treece said.

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