List of county manager candidates narrowed to three

Ken Vance Editorial Clarkcountytoday.comField consists of two from outside Clark County and one regional candidate, according to County Chair Marc Boldt

It’s been about eight months since the members of the Board of County Councilors terminated the contract of County Manager Mark McCauley. The long, and somewhat expensive process of replacing McCauley is about to come to an end.

County Chair Marc Boldt
County Chair Marc Boldt

County Chair Marc Boldt revealed Thursday that the search for McCauley’s replacement has been narrowed to a short list of three candidates. Those three candidates are expected to come to Clark County the second week of February for a final round of interviews and during that week Boldt anticipates he and his fellow councilors will make their decision who will be Clark County’s next lead executive.

Boldt said the county was not ready to make the identities of the three candidates public, but he said that would be done by the time they arrive for the final steps of the hiring process. He did say “two are from outside the area and one is a regional candidate.’’

“We had phone interviews with seven (candidates) last week and we’ve narrowed it down to three (finalists),’’ Boldt said. “We’ve requested that they come to interviews the second week of February. As soon as background checks are done, that formality, then the names will be put out there and we will send out a press release.’’

Information on the county manager search has, thus far, been hard to come by. But, Boldt promised the rest of the process would be a transparent one.

“We will have an outside group of citizens meet with them and that will be open to the public,’’ Boldt said. “There will be meetings with employees and outside people like city managers and mayors — something like that. Then, we (councilors) will see them last. We will interview them and we will make a decision on the top one. They will want to know pretty quick. It’s three people and they’re lives are depending on it.’’

He could have said that the future of Clark County is depending on it. When Clark County voters approved the Home Rule Charter in November 2014, they placed a great deal of importance on the person who filled the role of county manager. That person would have more responsibility and authority than his or her predecessors had. I’ve stated many times that I was against passage of the Charter, largely because I was uncomfortable taking away authority from elected officials (councilors) and giving it to an executive who was appointed, not elected.

McCauley’s termination was done largely behind closed doors. Most of us here in Clark County still don’t have a clear understanding of what happened. Councilors would only say that the county needed a new direction of leadership. However, as the months have passed since the councilors’ decision, there have been whispers that McCauley was too cozy with staff members, possibly defending their best interests over those of county residents, or against the wishes of the councilors.

In July, the councilors made the decision to hire Jim Rumpeltes as the interim county manager. In order to lure Rumpeltes from his home in Arizona on an interim basis, the councilors agreed to pay him $125 per hour. Boldt previously confirmed that Rumpeltes was billing the county, on average, about 48 hours per week plus expenses. The cost of having Rumpletes on an interim basis amounted to approximately double what the county was paying McCauley at the time of his termination. (McCauley’s salary amounted to $14,121.67 per month.)

Boldt said the added expense has paid off as Rumpeltes has brought the desired fresh approach to the position, breaking from the culture that was present during McCauley’s tenure.

“It’s been very good, in fact, if there was any way we could get him to apply we — all (councilors) and a lot of employees — would have liked to have had him apply but his wife wants to go back to Arizona,’’ Boldt said of Rumpeltes. “Jim brought a new sense of leadership. He has a good balance between grace and accountability.’’

Boldt used the recent supplemental budget process as an example of how things were different under the leadership of Rumpeltes.

“Even though it was just a supplemental budget, he took ownership of it (the process),’’ Boldt said of Rumpeltes. “He stood up and talked to all the elected officials and department heads and said this is not the staff’s budget, this is our budget.’’

Boldt believes that Rumpeltes gave the councilors a vision of the ideal candidate for the position.

“I think so,’’ Boldt said. “Being elected, you only know what’s really in front of you. When somebody as good as Jim is in front of us, the bar of leadership and accountability was set up higher. That really helps us when we talk to other people. We have in mind what we want to see in a county manager.’’

So, in the end, Boldt feels the extra cost hasn’t been a burden on the taxpayers.

“No it hasn’t been a burden, but you’re right, we knew there was some risk involved because it did cost us more,’’ Boldt said. “We felt as far as the future of Clark County and the citizens, we felt it was better to make that decision to go out there and look for a person who is a change agent. The extra cost has already paid off.’’

Words like “change agent’’ appeal to me in this situation. I’m part of a captive audience of Clark County citizens who want to see how this process will be completed.

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About The Author

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Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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