When the Normal Town Council meets in closed-door session Friday to discuss the process for hiring its next city manager, they'll be joined by an outside consultant.
Current City Manager Mark Peterson announced this week that he'll retire in March after 20 years on the job and three decades working for the town.
"Under the state statute, the city manager is the one person we hire and obviously could fire as well," said Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member Jeff Fritzen, discussing the Town's Council's responsibilities on GLT's Sound Ideas. "Our duty, though, is to hire a city manager, and I think obviously the level of responsibility both administratively and in helping to drive the town to new horizons, it is the most important job we have."
Fritzen said when the council meets on Friday, it will include Lyle Sumek of Lyle Sumek Associates Inc., a national recognized consultant helping local governments across the nation, including Normal, with strategic planning. Fritzen said Sumek would help ensure the council engages in an effective hiring process.
"You want to start there. We are not going to start at the end, starting to think about people and stuff like that. We're going to start at the front end and figure out what the best process is for us," said Fritzen.
Fritzen has served on the council off and on since 1983. He's also worked with the town's only two city managers, Dave Anderson and Peterson, who was hired as Anderson's assistant in 1988. Peterson was hired as city manager in 1998.
"I think one of the first things the council has to recognize is that we can't clone Mark," said Fritzen. "This is a fresh beginning and we have to look at it that way. We can't just go look for somebody just like we had because we like what we've been doing. We this is an opportunity for the town to be challenged by some new thinking and a new person perhaps."
"I really do believe that it's time for new leadership," said Peterson. "I've had some success and I appreciate the comments that were made by Mr. Fritzen and others and it's really gratifying. But I do think it's an exciting opportunity for the town to bring in a fresh perspective, some new energy, new ideas, new vision that I think will take the town to a new level of success."
Fritzen said it's important to find someone who will maintain the work environment that Peterson has built. He said he'd like a collaborator and someone who would challenge employees to do their best. Fritzen added, the next city manager shouldn't be afraid of challenges, not afraid of looking outside the box, and would work to develop a good relationship with the council.
"We've been blessed," said Fritzen. "Both under Dave (Anderson) and Mark (Peterson), that we have city managers who will push us (council members) and put things before us that challenges us, but they recognize that it's a give and a take and there's compromise there and we have a great working relationship with our town administration and it all starts with the city manager."
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