Modesto mayor wants names of city manager finalists to be released

Mayor Garrad Marsh said he would like Modesto to release the names of the finalists for city manager well before the City Council picks one for the job.

That’s not how the council did it when it selected Modesto’s last city manager in 2008. That council did not release any names until it announced it had selected Greg Nyhoff as its manager, according to Bee archives. The council also released the name of the second finalist. At one point, the city had six finalists, and then four, but it released only two names.

Nyhoff left Modesto in May to become city manager of Oxnard in Southern California.

Marsh said releasing the names would give the public a chance to do its own vetting of the finalists. But he added that the names would not be released unless other council members concur and the city’s executive search consultant – Roseville-based Bob Murray & Associates – thinks it’s a good idea.

Council members Jenny Kenoyer and Bill Zoslocki said they support releasing the names to be transparent. “I don’t know why not,” Kenoyer said. “We should have an interest in letting people know. It’s important for people to see we are not secretive.”

Zoslocki added that by the time people become finalists, it’s difficult for their names not to become known.

Councilmen Tony Madrigal and Dave Lopez expressed reservations that releasing the names could hurt the finalists with their current employers and can discourage good candidates from applying. Councilmen Dave Cogdill Jr. and John Gunderson could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Marsh also laid out the remaining steps in selecting a city manager. City officials have said 19 people applied for the job and the council and Bob Murray & Associates narrowed the field to five candidates. City officials have declined to say whether any of the candidates have dropped out.

Marsh said council members will interview the candidates in closed session Monday and he expects they will select finalists. He said he prefers releasing the names then or soon after.

He said that on Oct. 20, the finalists will be interviewed by two panels – one composed of city officials and the other of community members – before they are interviewed a second time by the council. He said council members will use the input from the panels in making their final pick.

Jim Holgersson – who has more than 35 years of experience in city government, including stints as a deputy city manager in San Jose and city manager of Arlington, Texas – has been Modesto’s interim city manager for several months. Holgersson is one of the candidates for the permanent job.

Marsh said officials want the community panel to represent a cross-section of the community and include members from industry and business, health care, education and nonprofit organizations, as well as include the city’s ethnic diversity. He said the panel should have 15 to 20 members and those interested in serving are encouraged to email Deputy City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley at dwilliams-ridley@modestogov.com.