The search for Purcellville’s permanent town manager now has a definitive timeline and structure.
Interim Town Manager John Anzivino on Tuesday night presented town council with an outlined process for the search, providing dates for interviews and negotiations with the 29 applicants. He said the position could be filled by the first week in March, but that it depends on the availability of council members.
“There’s some flex in there but we need to set some target dates because if you don’t, things to kind of stray,” he said. “We need to make sure that this gets done and it gets done correctly.”
The structure that Anzivino suggested includes four stages—candidate interviews with department heads, two rounds of interviews with all town council members and a negotiation process.
The first round of candidate interviews will be with department heads and will take place Feb. 1-2. Anzivino said this would allow town staff to see how each candidate fits with each department and to provide their input to council.
From here, 4-5 candidates will be selected for initial 75-90 minute interviews on Feb. 15-16 with all town council members present, either in-person or over-the-phone. Anzivino said council would ask each candidate around 20 questions about their ideas of a good relationship with the council, staff and community and about their managerial and technical experience. He said the interviews should take place away from town hall, but in a secure setting.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser asked Anzivino to develop this first set of questions for council to use or modify.
Candidates in this round will also give 10-15 minute presentations on topics that are chosen by council members to see what their presentation skills are like.
“This will give you a sense of how nervous they might be and how well they communicate,” Anzivino said. “You want somebody who can communicate well with [council], as well as with the community, as well as with [town] staff.”
Background checks on criminal and civil history, education, driving records and credit will also be conducted in this phase.
Town council will then select the final two candidates for final 45-minute interviews to be held Feb. 22-23. Anzivino said council members should also get to know these candidates in a less structured setting by taking them out for lunch or dinner.
Once a single candidate is selected for the town manager role, Anzivino said council would need to discuss a benefits package and designate two people to negotiate it and the salary with them by March 2. He suggested these individuals be Fraser and either a council member or Interim Town Attorney Hank Day.
“You really do need folks who are able to speak for the rest of council,” Anzivino said.
Once hired, the new town manager could start working as early as April 2.
Town council is required to conduct all interviews and discussions in closed sessions because Virginia law dictates that such human resources processes be handled this way.
Anzivino stressed that the town manager selection would ultimately be town council’s decision, even though town staff would be providing input at the start.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to help you get ready for this,” he said. “I want to make sure that you know, the public knows, that this is [council’s] process.”
Purcellville has been looking to fill the permanent town manager position since Rob Lohr retired in May. Alex Vanegas, the former public works director, acted as interim town manager from then until November, when he was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into reports of misconduct.
The search officially began in September, once town council voted to conduct it using in-house resources and Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman and Councilman Ryan Cool were appointed to lead the effort. A recruitment package was advertised in October with an application deadline that ended two weeks ago.
Anzivino has filled in as interim town manager since Dec. 18.