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Henderson city manager finalists sound off

The six finalists to be Henderson’s next city manager began making their pitches during a public meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The candidates were asked ahead of time to tell the council what they would do in their first 100 days on the job.

Council members didn’t ask questions during Wednesday’s 2½-hour meeting at City Hall. On Thursday, they will interview each candidate separately during another public meeting.

The council will then begin public deliberations and could vote on a new manager Thursday night. Or it could decide to narrow the list down, which would lead to another round of interviews Monday.

There were common themes in the presentations Wednesday. Nearly all the finalists stressed communication and said they would learn how the city works before deciding what changes to make. Two said they would be “sponges” at first.

Two finalists, Scott Adams and Steven Sarkozy, said they had wanted to work in city government since they were teenagers.

“I knew in ninth grade this was what I wanted to do for a living,” Adams said.

The finalists were chosen by a search firm, Ralph Andersen & Associates, which the city paid about $30,000. The new manager will replace Jacob Snow, who resigned in April.

The two finalists who already work for Henderson, Steve Goble and Robert Murnane, touted their experience as an advantage.

“I’ve got a tremendous head start on this,” said Goble, a 25-year veteran who is now fire chief.

Goble said he learned the “Henderson Way” when he started with the city in 1990: a philosophy that the city does things differently and provides better services to residents. He said he’ll make sure employees “walk the walk” and live up to that philosophy.

Murnane, the city’s senior director of public works, parks and recreation, said he managed major transportation projects for the city earlier in his career. He said he has experience leading people through changes, having overseen the merger of the public works and parks departments.

Two other finalists are deputy city managers in Las Vegas, but both Adams and Orlando Sanchez live in Henderson.

Sanchez, who called himself “the energizer,” said his role would be to come up with ideas and set the tone. He said priorities would include addressing a shortfall in money for infrastructure and making sure older neighborhoods aren’t shortchanged in city services.

Adams, whose experience includes overseeing redevelopment projects in Las Vegas and elsewhere, said he has “left a mark” everywhere he’s worked. He said he would look for ways to make better use of technology and nurture the leaders of the future to prepare for the baby boomer retirement wave.

Two of the six finalists are from out of the area.

Sarkozy was longtime city manager of Bellevue, a large Seattle suburb, and then spent a year leading Carlsbad, Calif., before leaving in April. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sarkozy was the third city manager in three years to leave Carlsbad.

Sarkozy said his management style is approachable and upfront, reflected by his long tenure managing other cities: 13 years in Bellevue and 11 years in Roseville, Minn.

The sixth finalist, Ronald Olson, is city manager of Corpus Christi, Texas, and has held the same job in other cities.

Olson said he realized during an internship as a young man the huge impact city government has on people’s lives. He said he’ll focus on listening and creating plans that don’t sit on the shelf.

The question about a 100-day plan for Henderson hit a nerve for Olson, who showed the council a photo of framed 100-day plans on his office wall in Corpus Christi. They help him focus on priorities and give him a sense of urgency, he said.

Olson is now on his 16th 100-day plan in Corpus Christi.

Contact Eric Hartley at ehartley@reviewjournal.com or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley.

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