Modesto delays search for city manager

Modesto is postponing its search for a new city manager because four of its top six candidates withdrew their applications.

The City Council had planned to interview four candidates Friday. Two of them pulled out of the running late Monday, Mayor Jim Ridenour said.

Ridenour said the council will re-evaluate the applicants at its Feb. 12 meeting. In the meantime, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Director Jim Niskanen is the acting city manager.

The mayor said three of the finalists withdrew because of family concerns. The other took a different job.

More than 30 people applied for the position. The council narrowed the field to 12 and then to six.

"We're pleased with the candidates we have," Ridenour said. "We're just going to go back at them."

Ridenour is looking for a successor to George Britton, who retired earlier this month.

Ridenour said applicants have not raised questions about a ballot measure voters will see Feb. 5 that could adjust the mayor's relationship with the city manager.

Measure M would not change the city manager's job significantly, but it would require the city manager to consult with the mayor in early budget negotiations. It would set up an annual performance review for department executives based on goals the City Council would define.

"Measure M isn't changing anything about the city manager's job," Ridenour said.

Britton has told The Bee those changes would not make the position unacceptable to most city managers. Measure M is based partly on reforms Stockton voters passed eight years ago to give their mayor more influence over city decisions.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.