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Lawton City Council Moves Forward in Process For New City Manager

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LAWTON, Okla_Lawton has taken its first step towards hiring a new City Manager.

Tuesday night, the City Council was faced with the option of contracting with the same outside recruitment agency they used to hire Police Chief James Smith, or to conduct an in-house hiring process.

Councilwoman Dr. Rosemary Bellino-Hall and Jay Burk were strongly in favor of working with the agency. They believed that, despite costing more money, the outside agency would provide an unbiased and professional environment for finding a new City Manager.

Councilman Doug Wells argued that the cost was too great, and convinced a majority of the council that they could do a better job of finding the best candidate. The motion was approved 6-2.

City of Lawton Human Resources Director Jim Russell has been working continuously towards getting the city on the road to finding a new City Manager, and now that the City Council has decided how they will go about doing this, he has a  better idea of what this process will look like.

Russell said, "When you hire a City Manager you want somebody who has a vision for the city, someone who has some goals and some plans and you want them to be here long enough to see some of those goals and plans and see some of those visions come to completion."

For over a month, Russell has been compiling a new job description for Lawton City Manager.

"The reason for that is because you really want to know what you're looking for before you actually go out starting to look, " said Russell.

The new description is a product of Russell's research and input from the council.

"The biggest pieces they were interested in were looking at the educational level, making sure they did have master's in Public Administration and that they had a progressive responsibility for municipal government," Russell said.

From here, Russell says, a job posting will be posted through various outlets nationwide. The HR Department will field the applications, pass them along to The Council and allow them to sift through the candidates as they see fit. A process that will take patience, and as Russell stressed, time.

"We should be able to have a candidate identified by the end of this fiscal year, which would be May/June of this year," Russell said.

The Council will likely form two hiring committees of four to go about the hiring process. While HR will aid in the process, the hiring decision ultimately lies in the hands of The Council.

The Council also discussed the possibility of the hiring process becoming too much of a burden. If it proves to be too much of a challenge, they will re-visit the proposal for working with the outside recruitment agency.

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