City Manager Selection Process 2014 – 2015

(Dated sections of comments, from the bottom up, provide background.)

March 31, 2015

Summary and Closing Remarks

As observers of the 2014-15 City Manager hiring process, Tucson Residents for Responsive Government (TRRG) finds a number of positives, in keeping with TRRG goals and values, and several areas where improvement is needed.


TRRG is very much aligned with several Plan Tucson policies as adopted by Mayor and Council and City voters in 2013, one of the most important of which is to “Offer opportunities for productive public engagement in City policy, program, and project initiatives from the beginning of and throughout the planning and decision-making process.”

Further, Mayor and Council adopted Ordinance 11228 on December 9, 2014 stating that “The City Manager’s Office will implement and sustain an inclusive environment in which residents are provided an opportunity for meaningful participation throughout City planning and decision-making processes.”

Preparation for Hiring

During the middle of 2014, Mayor and Council received messages from a number of sources including TRRG that were looking for meaningful participation in the hiring process. Establishing criteria for selection and participating in applicant review were high priorities. TRRG provided a position paper detailing its preferences.

Partly in response to these requests, the City of Tucson set out its plan for citizen engagement in its instructions to its consultant. In September 2014, the City sponsored a town hall where interested citizens could offer suggestions for criteria for the hiring of a new City Manager. Two other opportunities for citizen engagement in the process were to be a “meet and greet” session with final candidates and a citizen’s panel to question the candidates and make recommendations. At TRRG’s urging, the meet and greet session was later altered to become a forum for candidates to respond to questions from the public.

On October 9, 2014, Mayor and Council passed an ordinance creating the City Manager Appointment Advisory Committee. The mayor and each council member appointed two people to serve on the panel. All but two of the members resided within Tucson city boundaries.

All of these steps were positive efforts by Mayor and Council to include the citizenry in the selection process. Initial steps were responsive to citizen desires for participation.

Mid-March 2015

Between October 2014 and March 2015, the hiring process was out of the public view. Soliciting and receiving indications of interest by qualified candidates, screening them, and inviting a portion of them to meet with Mayor and Council occurred during this time.

The March 2, 2015 announcement by the City Clerk’s Office of the March 10 – 11 interview and selection plans caught the community by surprise. There had been no progress reports and citizens had not been involved in designing the ending steps in the hiring process. The fact that the names of the high scoring candidates were not announced, no resumes were available until the last minute and that there was little or no time for public scrutiny raised an outcry in a number of quarters.

Council Member Kozachik was quoted as saying “I think the city should be embarrassed over the process we’re asking them to engage in . . .” Council Member Uhlich said: “We’ve all by now acknowledged shortcomings in the citizen input elements facilitated by the search firm to engage the public during the hiring process . . .”

TRRG members were advised of the March 10 Community Forum and urged to participate. Quite a few did appear and participated in the questioning process. The session was televised for the broader public. An unknown number of emailed comments were sent to Mayor and Council overnight.

The March 11 morning meeting in Mayor and Council chambers of the Advisory Committee was televised and open to the public. Advisory Committee members complained about the short notice and the cramped process for doing the job given them in October. “I feel like the process has hindered our ability to make a really sound and thorough decision . . .” They nevertheless did the job assigned them with intelligence and care.

Two members of the Advisory Committee attended the March 11 afternoon Mayor & Council executive session. Their job was to report the findings and recommendations of the Committee to the governing body. One of these two reported that “Mayor and Council were active in questioning us. I believe that they did listen and consider. I’m not sure if that altered anyone’s thinking, however.”

A final Advisory Committee member comment, which was concurred in by another member was: “My participation in this process felt cursory. I believe the commitment to our community and the talent available on the Committee could have been better used. I was impressed with the purposeful, thoughtful participation of all the Committee members, best playing the hand we’d been dealt.”

Followup questions were sent by TRRG to all Mayor and Council members. Replies from the Mayor and two Council members are here. There appeared to be general agreement that the Community Forum and Advisory Committee ideas are worthwhile but that improvements in planning, timing and communication with the public are called for.


So the Tucson Mayor and Council were responsive to public requests for meaningful participation in the hiring of a new City Manager, but provided a flawed ending process. Citizen participants were responsive, given difficult parameters. They are ready to be involved in a meaningful way, just needing to be given a better opportunity, with information available sooner and a little more notice and preparation time. The design of the ending steps might have benefited from early involvement of the Advisory Committee.

Submitting questions to be read to the candidates at the Community Forum was a good procedure since it used the time to best advantage – no wasted time while people went to the mike. Better communication about how the process would unfold would have been helpful. Citizens engaged as best they could.

TRRG sees evidence that people are ready to take an active role in their City government. Now it is up to the City to get the details correct so that citizen participation can be as meaningful as possible.

(Dated sections of comments, from the bottom up, continue here.)

March 13, 2015

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild announced on Friday March 13, 2015 that Michael Ortega had accepted in principle the City Manager job offer unanimously made by Mayor and Council. Details of the contract were being finalized. Mr. Ortega was expected to start with the City in June.

A number of news outlets created coverage of the March 10 – 11 events. Some of the articles are here.

March 11, 2015

Early on the morning of Wednesday March 11, 2015, the City Manager Appointment Advisory Committee convened in the Mayor and Council Chambers to establish which questions that members had previously submitted would be used and how the coming interviews would be conducted.

At approximately 9:00 AM, Ms Jacobs was interviewed first, with each of the eleven Committee members present asking two questions. At approximately 10:00 AM, Mr. Ortega was interviewed using the same process. Following Mr. Ortega’s interview and a short break, the Committee reconvened and discussed the two candidates’ interviews and qualifications. The interviews and subsequent Committee discussion were televised on TV12, the City’s video outlet.

In the early afternoon, the Mayor and Council met in executive session to decide on their choice for City Manager. Two members of the Advisory Committee joined the executive session to present the findings of the morning’s interviews, discussion and recommendations.

March 10, 2015

Mayor and Council met on the morning of Tuesday March 10, 2015 to interview four candidates they had invited to continue in the process. Afterwards, two of the candidates, Mary Jacobs and Michael Ortega, were selected to continue and were asked to join the Community Forum that evening. The two candidates’ resumes were posted on the City’s website Tuesday afternoon.

At 7:30 PM, Jacobs and Ortega took turns answering questions submitted on cards to Mr. Murray by citizens in attendance at the Mayor and Council Chambers. Each candidate took a question first, on a rotating basis, followed by the other candidate’s answer. It appeared that all submitted questions were answered. The session was complete at approximately 9:30 PM. The session was televised on TV12, the City’s video outlet.

March 2, 2015

The City of Tucson Mayor and Council have scheduled a Community Forum on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 7:30 P.M. in Mayor and Council Chambers of City Hall, 255 W. Alameda St.  The purpose of the forum is to give members of the public the opportunity to meet the finalist candidates for City Manager and to ask questions relevant to the position. Copies of their résumés will be available at the forum, as will be comment cards for attendees to give their feedback to Mayor and Council.

The résumés of the City Manager candidates will also be posted online on Tuesday, March 10, shortly after they are made available to the City Clerk’s Office.  They will be placed on the City’s main page as a hot topic. (To locate, google City of Tucson Hot Topics.)

The following morning, Wednesday, March 11, the City Manager Appointment Advisory Committee will meet at 8:00 A.M. in the Mayor and Council Chambers to interview candidates and to formulate a recommendation to Mayor and Council. This meeting will be open to the general public to observe.  It is anticipated to run into the early afternoon.

October 9, 2014

City Manager Appointment Advisory Committee

On October 9, 2014, Mayor and Council passed an ordinance creating the City Manager Appointment Advisory Committee. The mayor and each council member will appoint two people to serve on this panel. The stipulation that all members should be City residents, originally in the ordinance, had been removed. At the direction of the TRRG Board of Directors, Ruth Beeker went to the Call-to-the-Audience to ask that 50% or more of the appointees be Tucson residents. When the ordinance came up for approval, Regina Romero asked that it be amended to include that condition. It was decided to require that eight or more of the fourteen members reside in the City. The ordinance passed with that amendment included.

September 27, 2014

TRRG Public Educational Forum – Understanding City of Tucson Government

Thanks to Interim City Manager Martha Durkin and TRRG members Colette Altaffer and Bonnie Poulos for their contributions at TRRG’s first educational forum on Saturday October 27. The lively involvement of the attendees insured that everyone learned something new. Hopefully this will be the first of a series of opportunities to improve communication between City staff and City residents on important topics.

September 11, 2014

What Tucsonans Want in Their New City Manager

By Darren DaRonco


Tucsonans offered up their 2 cents Thursday on what they’d like to see in their next city manager.

At the top of their wish list: Someone who will listen to the community, be held accountable when things go wrong and recognize the public’s business should be public.

The mayor and council hosted a town hall meeting to hear from residents on traits they should look for when they start vetting city manager candidates.

‘It’s going to be important for all the candidates to be able to review what the citizens concerned enough to come to City Hall and express their opinions,’ said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. ‘And to give them some sense of the community.’

About two dozen residents showed up Thursday night to hear 17 of their fellow citizens’ opinions.

So what do people want in a new city manger?


A common theme was the next manager needs to tap into the ‘wisdom and insight’ of neighborhood groups and residents.

Les Pierce, resident of the Arroyo Chico neighborhood, said city officials often fail to include residents when the city moves forward on important development projects. When neighbors are ignored, Pierce said, projects end badly.

The new manager would have to keep residents in the loop, she said.

Molly Moore, who lives in the Pie Allen Neighborhood, agreed. ‘We want to maintain the charm, character and livability in our neighborhood,’ Moore said.

To accomplish that, Moore said the manager must bring developers, city officials and neighbors together so everyone is on the same page.

William Craig, teacher and 30-year resident, said the new manager, regardless where he or she may come from, must be familiar with neighborhood issues on Day One. If not, Craig said, they shouldn’t get the job.


Donald Ijams, resident of the Peter Howell Neighborhood, said whoever gets the job should hold city employees’ feet to the fire.

‘The new manager should regularly ask tough questions and press hard for satisfactory answers,’ Ijams said. ‘The new manager should not accept sloppy, lackadaisical or unresponsive work or attitude from city employees.’

Laura Tabili said the new manager will have to do some housecleaning since the city is filled with public servants who have nothing but contempt for the public.


Cecilia Cruz, a member of the El Rio Coalition, said the process must be done in the sunlight to rebuild trust and transparency in city government.

Once in place, the new manager should bring all city dealings out of the shadows and into the open, said Cruz, whose group is engaged in a public records lawsuit against the city.


Frequent city critic Keith Van Heyningen preferred the council hire someone from outside the state. He said he or she should be a constitutionalist, hold a degree in economics and have a healthy disdain for public- sector employee unions, which Van Heyningen said were the genesis of most of the city’s financial woes.


The city’s hiring consultant will create a job brochure and start recruiting candidates.

The city has yet to settle on a final dollar amount to pay the consultant, Bob Murray.

Murray will narrow the field to five to seven candidates, whom the council will interview. Once the top three are chosen, the council will hold another town hall meeting where the public can meet the finalists.

The council will then interview the finalists and eventually pick the new manager.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco

Arizona Daily Star – September 12, 2014 – Page C4

August 5, 2014

City Manager Search Update — by Ruth Beeker

Mayor and Council’s City Manager search agent, Bob Murray, came to the August 5, 2014 Study Session. After an extensive discussion, Mayor and Council agreed that Mr. Murray basically follow the draft guidelines earlier provided to the Mayor & Council by Martha Durkin.

There apparently will be three opportunities for public input. The first will be a Town Hall for all interested community members in early September to give input on what they would like to see in the new city manager. This will be prior to publicizing the vacancy. It was unclear how long the search would take, but December / January was mentioned as a possible completion time. Mr. Murray suggested there might be around 35 applicants.

The first cut to narrow the field will be screened by the agency to arrive at a top 12 whom the agency will interview. From that group, 5-7 candidate names will be forwarded to Mayor and Council to talk to. (There was a request that there be elected officials’ input throughout this entire screening process.) Mayor and Council will then select three finalists from that pool. That trio will be brought to Tucson for a two day event.

On the first evening, there will be a “meet and greet” for the public to hear each candidate give a brief bio and to mingle with the candidates. There were no details as to how the public’s opinions would be collected to be forwarded to Mayor/ Council.

A third citizen input opportunity will be an appointed panel. The Mayor and each Council Member will appoint two people to meet with the candidates the next morning. This group will be directed to ask similar questions of each candidate and to submit in writing what is perceived as the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

A similar process for city employees will be instituted for their input also. This information will be given to Mayor and Council for inclusion in their deliberations as they complete their final selection process.

TRRG will inform its members of the Town Hall when plans are announced.

July 5, 2014

TRRG member Mike Hayes prepared a comparison of the candidate profile used in hiring Mr. Miranda, mentioned in CM Steve Kozachik’s 07-01-14 e-newsletter, with portions of the TRRG position paper.   Comparison         City Manager Selection Position Paper

July 4, 2014 – Update on City Manager Search during 6/30/14 Mayor/Council Meeting

Reported by TRRG ad hoc City Manager committee members in attendance: Mike Hayes and Ruth Beeker

Item 4 at the Special Mayor/Council (M/C) Meeting on June 30, 2014 was ”Process for Recruiting and Selecting the City Manager.” Staff had provided Mayor and Council with an Executive Search Services Revised Price Proposal Page detailing eight vendor services which could be part of the process and the price charged by each of the six firms which the City already has on its list of preferred vendors.

Mayor Rothschild suggested that Council retain Bob Murray and Associates based on the past work the firm did in 2012. No other firms were discussed; Murray was approved by a 6-0 vote. That firm’s price proposal was $26,000 for all services listed with a 75-90 day timeline for completion.

Prior to the vote, there was wide-ranging discussion:

——- Murray’s fee to “Develop Candidate Profile” was $9000 compared to all other vendors’ $2500-$6,850 fees. The Mayor suggested it be removed entirely, others felt the City could do part of it in-house. Steve K. questioned the need for extensive advertising, thinking the word will get out on its own.

——- How M/C would give its input to Murray’s firm? It was suggested that a representative could come to the July 8th M/C meeting for a discussion of concepts; alternatively, it was suggested that a representative could meet individually with each member, and the firm was willing to do this at no charge. It was not clear what the next step was to be.

Points for TRRG members to be aware of:

Several Council members mentioned the need for community engagement. There seemed to be no consensus at this time as to what that would be. Steve K. suggested each council member select 2-3 people for a panel to interview candidates; earlier others have suggested a small number.

Council member Shirley Scott wondered if the new City manager should be able to bring with him/her a second in command.

The City Chapter spells out that the hiring of a City Manager is totally the function of M/C. When Richard Miranda was asked to describe the process when he was hired, he spoke of sessions with experts, stakeholders and M/C—none of which sounded public.

P.S. There is no item on the July 8th M/C agenda to discuss the selection process. Apparently the representative of Murray’s firm is not available so the meeting with the entire M/C has been postponed until next month, August 5, 2014.

July 3, 2014 – Karin Uhlich Comments on Process

“Mayor/Council also agreed to engage an Executive Search team in the multi-phase process for recruiting candidates and selecting a new City Manager. I have advocated strong public input especially in the beginning stages (drafting the posting and list of qualifications /strengths sought) and final stages (forums with the finalists and input on final selection). The decision will clearly rest with the Mayor and Council, and will best be made with public participation. Along with our decisions on allocating resources (budget, water, etc.), this decision will clearly have the most far-reaching implications for Tucson’s future. I welcome your thoughts.”  CM Karin Uhlich Note 07-03-14

July 1, 2014 – Steve Kozachik Comments on Process

“While I agree with the use of an outside consultant for early culling of the applicants, I feel there’s a lot of room in which to negotiate the scope of what the consultant will do. We also have to decide the level of public involvement in the selection process. I’d opt for a greater level, than a lesser one . . .

Our process is going to be open and transparent. I see first-hand the very direct contact that occurs daily between the community and representatives of the Manager’s office. Maybe Ward 6 is unique in the level of interaction, but I see it, work with it, and therefore want a greater level of citizen involvement in the selection process prior to a short list coming to M&C. We’ll still end up with a quality candidate, but if we choose correctly the community will have to live with the selection for years after some of us are gone from the Council. That’s why I’m going to urge a M&C driven community panel to at least get us to a short list of candidates.”  CM Steve Kozachik Newsletter 07-01-14

June 21, 2014 – TRRG Position Paper

Members of Tucson Residents for Responsive Government (TRRG) met on June 21, 2014 to share ideas of what traits and characteristics a new Tucson city manager should have. TRRG sees this appointment as crucial to the City’s future.

City of Tucson City Manager: A Position Paper

May 23, 2014 – Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda Announces His Retirement

“Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda announced his retirement today, effective July 31.

In a memo to the city council, Miranda said, “My reason for making this decision is that after nearly 40 years of service with the city of Tucson, I feel that it is time to make this move for my family and me.”

Miranda officially became the city manager in May 2012 after serving in an interim role for eight months.” 05/23/14