Search for New City Administrator Could Take Months

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Yelm’s city administrator’s official last day is Sept. 1. But it may be a while before she’s replaced.

Current City Administrator Shelly Badger is leaving the city to take a job as the corporate services manager of SCJ Alliance, a Lacey engineering and planning firm. Badger’s last day is Sept. 1, although with vacation time, she will effectively leave this week, Mayor Ron Harding said.

There isn’t a deadline for replacing Badger, Harding said. The focus right now is on filling other, more critical positions, including project manager, treasurer, and some key positions in the public works department.

“We’re lacking the project manager’s position in a time when we have as many or more projects as we’ve ever had going on in the city ... Those are, I think, really crucial positions that we don’t necessarily have in-house expertise to cover,” Harding said. “We’re covering, but we don’t necessarily have people who are subject matter experts, which is what you like to have as key personnel in those positions. It’s crucial we get those positions filled. We’ve been interviewing for all those positions for a number of weeks.”

By contrast, the city administrator position largely operates as support for the mayor, Harding said. Rather than fill the position immediately, he said he’s taking time to evaluate exactly what the city administrator’s responsibilities should be, as it’s been a long time since the city has had to hire someone for the position.

“Technically, we don’t have to have that position filled,” he said. “That position is there to help me manage the city. And so it’s just one of those things, just trying to get my arms around what to do, how much responsibility, where are the key functions that serve the city. ... We don’t have any of it sorted out right now.”

The search for the right candidate generally takes a couple months, Harding said.

“We knew going in we wouldn’t have somebody for Sept. 1,” he said. “I don’t really have a hard and fast date for getting somebody on board, because obviously it’s a position that she kind of shares with me to some extent. ... (I’ll be) spending a little more time doing more of those duties until I move forward with filling that position.”

In all strong mayor forms of government, city employees are employed at the will of the mayor, Harding said. The mayor decides how the roles will be filled.

Harding said generally, he will advertise the opening and go through an interview process. He usually appoints an internal interview panel.

“Then I select the best candidate, the person I think will do the best job for the city,” he said.

The city administrator position is appointed by the mayor and is subject to majority vote of the Yelm City Council to serve at the pleasure of the mayor, according to chapter 2.14 of the Yelm Municipal Code.

Harding said the city administrator is the only position that requires a vote by the city council.

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