Wrightsville Beach aldermen will interview candidates for the vacant town manager position from Thursday, Oct. 25, through Saturday, Oct. 27. Alderman Bill Sisson said the town received 34 total applicants from all over the country. With former town manager Bob Simpson, whose resignation is officially effective Nov. 1, Sisson and Mayor Pro Tem Susan Collins whittled the number of applicants down to seven.
In Wrightsville Beach, the town manager plays a major role as the boss of the entire town staff, the first point of contact for citizens and the liaison to the board of aldermen, Sisson said.
“Bob Simpson had an open-door policy and I would hope that the next person would also see fit to adopt that as well,” Sisson said. “In a small town that is really important to know that you can have access and communicate with the person who is basically running the town.”
Collins echoed the need for the town manager be available for the public, town staff and the board, and said the in-person interviews will be a great way to get insight into how those interactions would go.
“We will see the complete picture of how the person communicates,” Collins said, “how they would respond to the public … by their character and verbiage and how well they word information that has to go to the town and the public.”
Following the in-person interviews, the board will identify the top two candidates. Mayor David Cignotti said the town hopes to host a meet and greet for the public to interact with those two candidates.
“I think it just gives the public a chance to weigh-in when they meet the two finalists and it gives them a chance to meet them in a casual environment,” Cignotti said. “I’ve heard some who want more public input and I’ve had some who say, ‘we elected you guys to do that,’ so there are two sides to it, but I would like the chance to have the public meet the two finalists.”
Cignotti said he prefers a manager that is willing to offer his or her opinion.
“I think the town manager’s job is to offer advice, but also understand that once the board has made up its mind or is leaning to an area, then I think it is their job to carry that out,” he said. “You certainly want a town manager who will be honest with you and give you his honest opinion.”
The board hopes to identify a new town manager by the end of the year.