After wrapping up an initial round of interviews to fill the municipality’s vacant administrator’s post, council subcommittee members said they expect to decide this week who will be granted additional face time with the full body. Nine applicants were interviewed over the course of two weeks in May, and that list will likely be whittled to only a few.
Commissioner Mike Curry, one of three council members on the hiring committee, said his short list could carry a single name – or as many as four.
“I’m just looking for someone with common sense,” Curry said.
Curry was joined by Commissioner Marty Tellalian and Mayor Anthony Calderone in weeding through more than two dozen resumes received in the wake of former village administrator Mike Sturino’s departure in mid January. The process of hiring a new administrator for Forest Park has, at times, been acrimonious. In January and February, elected officials publicly battled one another in an apparent attempt to establish political power in the absence of a day-to-day supervisor. Forest Park’s commissioner form of government gives council members both legislative and administrative authority.
Those conflicts subsided – or were at least swept under the rug – once applications for the job began rolling in.
“I actually lean a little towards four, just so that the whole council can see them,” Tellalian said of those candidates he’ll recommend for a second interview. “I think that there are four candidates that are suitable.”
According to Tellalian, selecting two finalists for the job ought to be a relatively easy task for members of the subcommittee. Between interviews with each applicant, elected officials shared quick assessments of whether the individual made a favorable impression. Tellalian said that based on those preliminary discussions, broadening the pool of finalists to three or four applicants is where disagreements may begin to surface.
A former council member and longtime friend of the mayor’s, Tim Gillian, was among those granted an interview with the subcommittee. In April, when the Review first reported Gillian’s interest in the job, Curry and Tellalian acknowledged that an applicant’s relationship with any member of the council could prove problematic.
“Impartiality among any of the candidates is a serious issue,” Curry said in April. “You want someone who’s going to be fair, reasonable, have common sense and put the interests of Forest Park ahead of everything else.”
Tellalian would not say whether he intends to recommend Gillian be advanced to the next round. He did praise the former 12-year council veteran for his knowledge of Forest Park, but said Gillian “lacked some of the other qualifications that I would hope for in a village administrator.”
At the start of the hiring process, council members expressed a range of opinions on which skills are most important to the job. Whether the vacancy needed to be addressed with a sense of urgency was also debated. At the outset, both Curry and Commissioner Rory Hoskins used the end of the fiscal year, April 30, as an ideal deadline for installing a new administrator. They also argued for an interim administrator who could work until a permanent hire was made. Conversely, Tellalian and Calderone said they were comfortable with a slower pace. Municipal government can progress for several months without an administrator, they said, and in the meantime taxpayers aren’t supporting a six-figure salary.
April has passed and the council did not name an interim administrator.
Hoskins and Curry both said they’re comfortable with the rate at which the process has unfolded.
“I think the pace is fine,” Curry said. “Our village is still functioning.”
Hoskins said he would like to see an administrator hired by the end of July.