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Just a Thought - Stay local for city administrator

McMinnville's Board of Mayor and Aldermen needs to shop local in its search for a permanent city administrator.

Twenty-one individuals have thrown hats into the ring for consideration. Now officials have to review those and whittle down the number to a handful who will then be invited for personal interviews with board members.

Municipal Technical Advisory Service has already begun that process by submitting its list, from 1 to 21, based on qualifications. No. 1 was not, for lack of better language, a local resident. Our current city administrator, Bill Brock, was No. 2 on that list.

Mayor Ben Newman pushed for the search as a way, he said, to determine if the city had the best person for the job.

“I hope Mr. Brock applies and I think he will apply,” said Newman. “Maybe it will get people better than Mr. Brock to apply and that would be beneficial to the city. If we don’t get anyone better that applies, then we know we’ve got the best and we can feel really good about that. I don’t feel bad about what we have now.”

I think the MTAS list answered that question. Yes, we do have the best, at least as far as a local individual is concerned.

Alderman Mike Neal was among those who wished to forego a search and consider Brock, who has been interim city administrator for four years, for the job permanently.

“Before we go through the process of searching for and seeking a new administrator and the possible expense that is involved in that when you start bringing people in for interviews, we need to make sure we don’t already have the right person here,” said Neal.

Besting Brock in the initial stage of the search was a person, who, by my online research, has 13 years’ experience as a city manager. I shan’t say any more about it. I would suggest that officials, at a minimum, do the same online review.

Additionally, I hope officials have learned their lesson about rolling the dice and bringing in unknown persons to fill key jobs in city government. Yes, there have been some good choices. No, the risk hasn’t always paid off.

Personally, I’m not a big risk taker. I’ve never been one to gamble. Wasting money isn’t something I enjoy doing. I went to Tunica once and stayed at a hotel with a casino. I broke even. I took $60 with me and played it safe. I would suggest officials do the same here.

This list, which I have, has recognizable names so there are a few Warren County residents. However, they are further down on the list from Brock. I’m taking that to mean they do not have his qualifications with years of experience in government.

This situation could be a good lesson in being careful what you wish for – the board wanted choices and now has a field of 21. Good luck whittling that down. I have my fingers crossed.

Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.