After departure of Carol Gonzales, Shawnee starts the search for a new city manager


By Jerry LaMartina

Shawnee is officially on the hunt for a new city manager.

At its Monday night meeting, the City Council authorized city staff to issue a request for proposals for executive search services to find a new city manager. The RFP will be issued today, and the deadline for submitting proposals is 5 p.m. Jan. 12, 2018.

Former City Manager Carol Gonzales submitted her resignation letter to Mayor Michelle Distler on Oct. 9, saying she had accepted a job as director of finance and administration for the Mid-America Regional Council. Gonzales had worked on the city’s staff since 1998 and was named as city manager in 2005. Her final day as city manager was Nov. 15.

The council appointed Vicki Charlesworth as interim city manager on Nov. 6, and she started the job Nov. 16. Charlesworth said that day she didn’t want to become Shawnee’s city manager but wanted to help the council choose its next city manager.

The council hasn’t set a limit on how much money it will spend for executive search services to find a new city manager, city spokeswoman Julie Breithaupt said.

The RFP, contained in documents related to Monday’s meeting, defines the scope of work the city seeks from a consultant:

  • Develop a candidate profile in conjunction with the council and city staff;
  • Recommend a salary range, benefits package and recruitment time table;
  • Give the council a list of competent candidates and coordinate job interviews;
  • Verify candidates’ professional references;
  • Recommend a method to achieve these ends.

At Distler’s request, the Topeka-based Kansas League of Municipalities (KLM) made a presentation at a special council meeting Dec. 5 detailing its League Executive/Administrative Position Search (LEAPS) service. KLM’s fee to provide the service to Shawnee would be roughly $20,700 to $21,400, including direct advertising costs. According to the presentation, KLM would:

  • Administer a Characteristics Profile and Who’s Responsible surveys to build consensus and help review the city manager job description;
  • Help the city write a job description;
  • Conduct a salary survey showing how much comparable cities pay their city managers;
  • Help the city create and place an advertisement for the job;
  • Review applicants’ resumes for compliance with stated criteria;
  • Recommend candidates to the city;
  • Help the city arrange interviews and prepare interview questions;
  • Give the city information on criminal background checks of candidates;
  • Notify all candidates after the job has been filled;
  • Make as many as two trips to Shawnee to administer the plan.

KLM intends to submit a proposal to the city to provide the search services, said Nikki Harrison, the organization’s member services coordinator. KLM offers LEAPS only to its members. The organization commonly gives informational presentations about the service to potential clients before an RFP is issued, and it conducts five to seven executive searches a year.

From the RFP’s general information about the city:

“Shawnee, population 65,795, is the third largest city in Johnson County and offers a safe, friendly community lifestyle with easy access to two interstate highways (I-35 & I-435). Visibility and convenience are major attributes of our community as well as the variety of housing opportunities and two top-rated school districts. In addition to the excellent hometown services and stores, residents enjoy a well-rounded business community. Safe streets and neighborhoods complement our nationally recognized parks and recreational opportunities. Shawnee offers the convenience and amenities of a big city, yet continues to have small-town charm.”