Modesto down to three candidates for city manager

Modesto is down to three candidates for city manager.

The City Council is expected to interview two of them Monday in closed session. The third candidate cannot make the interview but can be interviewed at another time, said Bob Murray with Bob Murray & Associates, the Roseville-based executive search firm helping Modesto.

Nineteen people applied for the job, and the council and its search firm narrowed that to five candidates.

Murray said one candidate dropped out because his circumstances with his current employer have improved. Murray said another candidate dropped out because he was concerned the city had a strong internal candidate and he did not want to run the risk of having his name released to the public.

Interim City Manager Jim Holgersson is among the three candidates. Officials have declined to release the names of the others.

Mayor Garrad Marsh has said the schedule is for the council to pick finalists Monday and then have them interviewed by two panels – one composed of city officials and another composed of community members – and reinterviewed by the council Oct. 20. He has said the council could pick a city manager as soon as Oct. 20.

When asked whether two candidates is a sufficient number to pick a city manager, Murray said: “It’s a big enough pool if the council thinks it’s a big enough pool. Ultimately, they will talk to these people and make that decision. Their options are wide open. They could talk to the third person. They could supplement the pool of candidates by asking us to recruit more candidates, or they could select one of the two.”

Councilman Dave Cogdill Jr. said Modesto may need to recruit more candidates. “It’s such an important job,” he said. “The ideal situation would be to have five quality candidates.”

He added the council may need to offer more money for the job to attract more candidates. City Manager Greg Nyhoff was earning about $200,000 annually when he left Modesto in May to become city manager of Oxnard in Southern California. That’s about $15,000 to $30,000 less than what the Stanislaus County CEO, Modesto City Schools superintendent, Turlock city manager and Modesto Irrigation District general manager are paid.

Oxnard – which has roughly the same population as Modesto – is paying Nyhoff $265,000 annually.