By Jim Young
After two previous rounds of selecting candidates to interview for the Crossville city manager position that possibly violated the Sunshine Law, each city councilman picked their top two candidates during the regular July meeting, with seven being selected to be interviewed.
Councilman George Marlow had the item put on the agenda concerning city manager interviews and, after explaining that one of the candidates that was thought to have withdrawn his name had not, Marlow moved to interview the top three candidates that had been previously selected.
As discussion of the motion began, Councilman Pete Souza said, “I believe we have a problem.”
Souza recapped that, based on his understanding, the secret ballots could make subsequent actions challengeable. Souza talked about the problems faced by Knox County several years ago making appointments to offices that were overturned because of Sunshine Law violations.
“I think we have to start all over from the beginning,” said Souza.
Marlow argued the city had done the same thing previously in selecting city manager candidates and was unsure why this time was different.
Councilman Danny Wyatt commented the difference was that the individual council member's ballots were destroyed and that was what made it different.
City Attorney Ken Chadwell was asked to weigh in on the matter and he said he did not think the city needed to go back and ask for resumes again unless the council wanted to. Chadwell said that the cure for any alleged breach of the open meetings law is to hold open deliberations.
Chadwell continued, saying that those deliberations can lead to the same candidates as before but, “at a minimum, the council should start fresh in your discussion about creating the list.”
The problem with the process this time, according to Chadwell was that the ballots were deleted and not available for the public's review.
Council members each received the list of 40 candidates to review and opted to each choose two candidates to put a list together to interview.
Each council member picked two candidate, with three people receiving two votes each. A total of seven candidates will be contacted for interviews starting in the last half of July.
The councilmen's selections included Mayor J.H. Graham III choosing Jeffery Skidmore and Scott Collins; Wyatt chose Scott Collins and David Rutherford. Marlow picked his son-in-law, Aaron Elmore, and interim manager Jack Miller. Councilman Jesse Kerley picked Elmore and Rutherford, and Souza picked Steve Goodwin and Carlo Pilgrim.
The chosen candidates will be contacted and invited to come to Crossville at the city's expense to interview. Those interviews will be open to the public when they are scheduled.
Candidates include Elmore, who is the web coordinator for TAP publishing and has an accounting degree from Tennessee Technological University. Elmore was a candidate 18 months ago and was interviewed by the council at that time, as well.
Miller served eight years as Crossville city manager and is currently serving as interim manager. Miller has a master's degree from ETSU and a Ph.D. from California Coast University. Miller was dismissed form the position previously but selected as interim manager after Bruce Wyatt resigned.
Skidmore was a finalist and interviewed 18 months ago for the city manager position. He retired from a position a Weston Florida in February and now lives in Crossville. Skidmore has a degree from Florida Sate University.
Collins is currently interim city manager for Fayettville, TN, and previously served as mayor and city administrator of Newport, TN. Collins has a degree in political science from ETSU.
Rutherford currently serves as city administrator of McMinnville, TN, and his education includes a master's degree from ETSU in environmental health and a law degree from the Nashville School of Law.
Goodwin is a Crossville native who now lives in in West Point, GA, and is with Neri Capital Partners. Goodwin has an MBA from Auburn University.
Pilgrim previously served as the city manager of Holbrook, AZ, and is currently researching a book he is writing as well as consulting for start up businesses in partnership with his brother.
The interviews will be scheduled for approximately one hour each and will be set up as soon as possible based on the council member's schedules.