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Councilors pare manager candidates

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Rio Rancho city councilors have narrowed the field of applicants for the city manager’s position and plan to hold interviews with a shortlist of candidates in a closed meeting next week.

Councilors must then rank between three and five candidates to recommend to the mayor, who chooses one to appoint to the position. The mayor’s choice must be approved by the council.

This is the second attempt to find a candidate to replace former city manager James Jimenez, who retired involuntarily in July after differences of opinion with some councilors.

The governing body – six councilors and Mayor Tom Swisstack – interviewed four candidates in December but was unable to select a minimum of three to recommend.

A second round of advertising drew 30 applicants. Seven of them had previously applied, three of whom did not meet the minimum qualifications, city spokesman Peter Wells said in an email.

The governing body reviewed the applications and decided to conduct initial interviews with six via an online Skype connection at City Hall on Feb. 20. Those candidates were Roberto Hernandez of Florida, William Cooper of Michigan, Hugh King of Georgia, Keith Riesberg of Missouri, Mike Castro of Texas and Robert Gallagher of Rio Rancho, Wells said.

They selected Cooper, Castro, Riesberg and Hernandez to attend in-person interviews at a closed session in City Hall on Friday. Hernandez withdrew his candidacy earlier this week.

Cooper was among those who had previously applied. He has been a city manager in Hamtramck and Mount Clemens, Mich.

As part of the closed session, the governing body will also invite five additional applicants to interview via Skype. Those candidates are Paul Vanderploog, Reid Charles, Anthony Carson, Konrad Hildebrandt and Dana Paul Hlavac.

Some members of the governing body selected them for the first round of interviews but they were not interviewed on Feb. 20, Wells said.

Councilors and the mayor have said they were open to offering a higher salary than the $135,000 previously offered. Jimenez’s outgoing salary was $151,507.
— This article appeared on page 02 of the Albuquerque Journal

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