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Summit County Council considering three finalists for top job

Summit County council, staff and community members interviewed the three finalists for county manager on Friday.
Summit County council, staff and community members interviewed the three finalists for county manager on Friday.

Summit County leaders interviewed the top three finalists for a new Summit County manager on Friday. The final decision is now up to the Summit County Council, which is expected to make a decision early in the new year.

A total of 31 applicants applied for the job of Summit County manager. Former manager Tom Fisher resigned at the end of July after serving in the position for seven years.

Summit County Human Resources Director David Warnock, who is leading the search, says the search firm the county hired narrowed the list of applicants before handing them off to a community selection committee.

“Then our search firm that we hired, narrowed that down to 16 candidates through their elimination process, review, what have you,” Warnock explained. “And then when he interviewed 16, sent out a questionnaire to them, asking them further details, six dropped out of those 16. So, we ended up with 10. He then did specific interviews with those candidates and narrowed it down to eight, that the selection committee then ultimately reviewed and, and went through their process.”

The selection committee, Warnock says, then gave the county four finalists. One of those dropped out before final interviews were conducted by three panels last Friday.

“That was what was done previously, when Tom Fisher was hired,” Warnock said. “They had a panel interview process, and the council wanted the input from different members of the community, department and elected heads, and then themselves so that we so we followed that similar process, they felt it worked really well when Tom was hired. And so, they felt like they wanted to do that process again.”

This system he says has proved to be successful because it engages those who will deal with the manager day-to-day in the selection process.

“I think it says that the council cares about what community members and employees say, and have an input to this process,” Warnock said. “You know, we don't really have a vote - department heads and community members don't have a vote—it’s the council's vote. But for them to involve others in this process really says that they care that the manager has an affiliation and a relationship with the community and with the department heads. So, it shows that, they want that involvement. And it's important to them. So, I think it's a very good process and a very valuable process.”

Ultimately, the decision is up to the county council. But with newly elected council member Canice Harte still not officially on the council, they will have to wait until at least Jan. 4th when Harte will be sworn into office.

“So, they'll have to have another session and a closed session where they'll get together and they'll discuss among themselves and make a final decision, Warnock explained. “By state statute, they cannot make an official appointment or an official announcement until after the newly elected council member Canice Harte is put into that is sworn in by state statute, they cannot do that. So, an official announcement will not occur until January after Canice is sworn into position.”

Based on those closed-door discussions, Warnock said he’s hopeful the council can make a decision in early January. The council could also restart the search if it doesn’t want to proceed with any of the current candidates.