Consulting firm founder explains nuts and bolts of MLT city manager search

City of MLT logoOn Monday, city officials got their first opportunity to meet with the consulting firm conducting the executive recruitment process in the search for the next Mountlake Terrace City Manager.

Four of the seven Mountlake Terrace City Council members met individually with Colin Baenziger, founder of Colin Baenziger & Associates, the Florida firm tasked with finding candidates for the top post at city hall; the remaining three council members met with Baenziger on Tuesday.

“My goal is to talk to you about what makes Mountlake Terrace a great place to live, work and play,” Baenziger shared during the Oct. 21 council meeting. The individual meetings Baenziger conducted with council members also addressed issues the city faces and what characteristics the next city manager will need to be successful in the office.

Next in the process will be making recruitment marketing materials and getting the open position advertised, Baenziger explained. “About three weeks after we’ve started we will have a closing date, at which point I will sit down with all the resumes, take a look at them, and determine who I think looks like the best candidates,” he stated.

Colin Baenziger & Associates, in their process of narrowing down applicants, conducts background and criminal checks at national, state and county levels, interviews up to eight references of each candidate, and investigates financial records, newspaper archives and internet searches. “We’re looking for the good, we’re looking the bad and we’re looking for some of the issues that the candidates dealt with,” Baenziger added.

At the end of the process, Baenziger and his staff write 50- to 100-page reports on each individual candidate they feel would qualify for the city manager position. The final candidates — Baenziger narrows it down to about five, but leaves the total number up to the city council — are then invited to final interviews with council members and a public reception.

“The only part of this process we like to make difficult for you is that we like to present so many good candidates that it’s hard for you to choose which one’s the best,” Baenziger told the city council on Monday.

The city council has already stated that any final decision on who will assume the office of City Manager won’t take place until after Jan. 1, 2014 in order to allow any new council members who may be elected in the Nov. 5 General Election to have a say in the selection.

After holding positions in public service, Baenziger started his executive recruiting firm 15 years ago; “At the time I felt that I had a knack for finding key people, whether it was the second baseman on my softball team or my public works director,” he said.

Although headquartered in Florida, Baenzinger and Associates has an office in the Tri-Cities and has conducted city manager searches throughout Washington state, including Tacoma, Yakima, Fife, Normandy Park and Sunnyside. They are currently heading up the search for a top executive for the City of Bellevue.

— By Doug Petrowski

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