Finalists offered strong, diverse set of qualifications, with one curious constant

By Dan Aznoff | Apr 05, 2019

The four candidates who were flown in for an intense weekend of interviews offered Mill Creek a unique set of qualifications for a city in search of consistent leadership and stability.

All four finalists have advanced degrees plus years of experience at the helm of municipal and public agencies. Each expressed a sincere desire to move to Snohomish County as the next, and possibly, last step in a career of public service.

However, the four candidates invited to town over the weekend of March 22-24 looked more like a barbershop quartet than the people who live and work in the Mill Creek.

They were all white men with backgrounds that did little to expose them to a city with an emerging minority population.

Mill Creek resident Carmen Fisher, who has been an outspoken critic of the lack of diversity in City Hall, declined to comment on the finalists as a group based on her participation with the boards that interviewed the four candidates.

“It would not be right for me to say anything on the diversity of the candidates,” Fisher told The Beacon. “In fact, I am obligated not to say anything about them at all.”

The finalists included Shayne Scott, who currently serves as the city manager in the township of Kaysville in Utah, a suburb of Ogden. Another was Steve Barwick, who has spent his entire career in Colorado, working as an analyst for the state university in Boulder and municipalities in Vail and Aspen.

Candidate Matt Coppler emphasized his ability to work with diverse segments of the population over the course of his career in Ohio. He currently serves as city manager for the New York suburb of Enfield, Connecticut. He compared the upscale community to Mill Creek and its proximity to Seattle.

The work history of Michael Ciaravino reflects the most exposure to a diverse population. The current city manager in Newburgh in New York and previously served as the mayor and city manager in Maple Heights near Cleveland in Ohio.

Drew Gorgey with the executive search firm Peckham & McKenney said it would be illegal to limit the recruitment of a city manager by ethnic guidelines or give preference to men over women.

“As you can tell from the finalists here tonight, we recruit from across the nation,” Gorgey said during the Happy Hour at The Forum in Town Center. “Fact is, only 12 percent of the responses we received were from women.”

Councilmember Vince Cavaleri underscored the city’s desire for diversity.

“Our last city manager may not have worked out well. She was a woman and our mayor is a woman,” said Cavaleri. “Diversity is important. But not as important as finding the best person for the job. Man or woman.”

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