In a sparsely attended Town Hall to invite public input into the qualities desired in a City Manager, Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmember Diana Souza heard from less than a dozen residents.
Mayor Cassidy explained to the audience that the ad-hoc committee for the selection of the City Manager had narrowed down the "more than 30" candidates to five. Cassidy would not get into specifics about the candidates, but did say that "we do have a diverse group." The ad-hoc committee consists of Cassidy, Souza, and Councilmember Ursula Reed. Reed was not present at the meeting because her speaking schedule at an event had been changed and conflicted with the meeting.
Souza explained that the goal of the process is to have the new City Manager on the job by July 1. She described the City Manager "is like the CFO of a company. They are in charge of everything." Souza later corrected herself, noting that the City Council directs the City Manager.
According to Cassidy, people who have answered the questionnaire said that the most important qualifications for a city manager were "public finance skills, business and economic development skills...live in our community communications skills....focus on the community and participation in the community as well as a long-range perspective."
Craig Williams, the first speaker, said that the city manager should have a "strong backbone" and said that one of the problems facing the city manager is the property tax scam that allows commercial properties to be sold without being re-assessed.
Harold Perez argued that San Leandro residents should be able to vote for the City Manager.
Mia Ousley asked if the City Manager candidates were aware of San Leandro By Design and noted that there was little recourse for citizens if the City Manager failed to perform well except to vote a few Council member out of office every few years.
Audrey Albers, a proponent of preserving boats at the marina, wanted the City Manager to recognize that there is more to San Leandro than business, referring "to the crown jewel of the marina."
Charles Gilcrest, a former member of the Board of Zoning Adjustments and former candidate for City Council, noted that the City Manager comes up for review more frequently than members of the City Council. The new City Manager should have a strategic vision, noting the discrepancy between David Irmer's presentation on downtown development and the transit-oriented development strategy. The City Manager "should be very responsive to you [City Council] and also interested in communicating with the community."
The City Council will meet in closed session on Thursday, May 5 to discuss the hiring of the City Manager. Interviews with City Manager applicants will be held on Saturday, May 7.