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Search continues for a new Hughson city manager
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The search for a new Hughson city manager is in its final weeks as the City Council conducted preliminary interviews at their Monday meeting.

Interviews were done in closed session prior to the council meeting with finalist interviews scheduled for Aug. 2.

The exact number of applicants is unknown, but Hughson council member Thom Crowder said there are "numerous applicants, more than three or four." He also said he knows a couple of them to be very qualified.

The Hughson City Council voted 3-2 in January to not renew former city manager Joe Donabed's contract when it expired in May.

One of the most important qualities the council has mentioned they are looking for in a new city manager is the ability to work well with the city council.

Whoever is picked as the new city manager will have the responsibility to "create, maintain, and enhance cooperative relationships with labor groups, the school district, chamber, fire protection district, neighboring communities and other regional agencies," according to the Peckham & McKenney Executive Search and Consulting recruiting pamphlet created for the city manager position.

The outside agency has been focusing on recruiting candidates with knowledge of agri-business and economic development within a smaller agricultural environment, according to the recruiting pamphlet. The ideal candidate will promote business in the community and identify opportunities for future potential.

"Traits of Hughson's desired city manager include integrity, humility, accountability, follow-through, and a sense of humor. The Council is not seeking to hire a 'yes man' but expects the city manager to provide clear and supported recommendations and to keep the council informed," according to the recruiting pamphlet.

A bachelor's degree in public or business administration or a related field is required but a master's degree is desirable, according to the recruiting pamphlet. Experience in local government with strong budgeting, organizational and economic development skills.

Crowder suspects the biggest draw for this position is the high pay and he is expecting the budget to be the most challenging for the new comer, he said. The budget for this year is still in the works.

Follow-up interviews are scheduled for Aug. 9 and the council is hoping for a new city manager before the recall election on Aug. 24.

The recall election is set for three council members - Crowder, Ben Manley and Doug Humphreys - after a Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury report was released in December 2009 stating that the three council members broke the Brown Act, the Hughson Municipal Code and the Fair Political Practices Regulations.

The new city manager could be hired by one council and then face a completely different council as he or she starts work.

"The city could start fresh with a new manager and new council," Crowder said.