Interviews scheduled for new DeKalb city manager

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT • Updated: Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 12:33 a.m.CDT

DeKALB – The top five candidates for DeKalb’s next city manager will be in town Friday for separate interviews with City Council members, city staff and two groups of residents.

City Council members narrowed about 50 applicants down to five last week, after search firm Voorhees Associates of Deerfield reviewed the applications, city leaders said. Interim City Manager Rudy Espiritu is among the finalists to permanently replace Mark Biernacki, who retired in June after about nine years as DeKalb’s city manager.

“We were all pretty pleased with the quality of the candidates and the range of the candidates,” said Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor. “We got a big cross-section, and I think we’re all looking forward to the face-to-face interviews.”

Under DeKalb’s form of government, the City Council sets policy and the city manager carries it out. The city manager compiles the city’s annual budget, oversees all city employees and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of government. The city manager reports to the City Council.

The next city manager will support first-term Mayor John Rey and guide city staff as city leaders continuing emphasizing partnerships with Northern Illinois University and continue pursuing economic development downtown, along the South Fourth Street corridor and along Sycamore Road. The new manager also will start just as DeKalb police finish moving to a new facility at 700 West Lincoln Highway, leaving leaders to decide what to do with the vacated space at the Municipal Building at 400 S. Fourth St.

After the first round of interviews this week, Rey and DeKalb aldermen will review reports from the two citizens’ groups, which Rey formed to meet with the finalists.

“I developed a list a interested parties [for the citizens interview committees] that have either volunteered for me or I have spoken to,” Rey said. “What I was looking for was a cross-section of community involvement or membership.”

Then, City Council members will meet in private Nov. 9 to interview the top two or three candidates. Ultimately, Rey will present his top choice to aldermen for their approval. That vote will be taken in open session.

Rey said he hopes to have a candidate in place by Jan. 1.

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