Although no contract has been signed, the Port Townsend City Council voted unanimously July 19 to select John Mauro as their preferred candidate to replace David Timmons as city manager.
Although no contract has been signed, the Port Townsend City Council voted unanimously to select John Mauro as their preferred candidate to replace David Timmons as city manager.
Nora Mitchell, finance and administrative services director for the city, was praised for filling the functions of interim city manager, as those functions pertained to the job search for a new city manager.
Mitchell recounted how the process of hiring a new city manager began in the early fall of last year, with a community task force who devoted months to developing an ideal profile for a new city manager, through surveys and focus groups and town hall-style meetings.
Mitchell credited business management consultants Peckham and McKenney with helping the city to winnow down its initial pool of 52 applicants to four finalists, through resume readings, questionnaires, phone and in-person interviews, as well as multiple interview panels on two consecutive days, culminating in a meet-and-greet with the community June 18.
City Council member Michelle Sandoval set the tone for the comments that followed by naming Mauro as her choice due to his intelligence, curiosity and level of engagement with the community, all of which she believed were evident in the level of research Mauro did on the community and charities of Port Townsend.
“He has a modern outlook,” said Sandoval, who credited outgoing city manager David Timmons with setting Port Townsend on a promising course for the future, especially in the areas of sustainable budgets and infrastructure. “And the Pacific Northwest is in his blood, even though he lives quite far away.”
Mauro currently serves as the chief sustainability officer for the city of Auckland in New Zealand, but was a policy analyst in the Seattle mayor’s office prior to taking that position.
Deputy Mayor David Faber echoed Sandoval’s praise of Timmons and her positive assessment of all four finalists, to the point that both described it as a “quandary” to choose a favorite, but Faber nonetheless described Mauro as “far and away my favorite” due to a level of community engagement that Faber considers essential for Port Townsend, as well as a level of research “above and beyond what we ever could have expected.”
Faber recounted an anecdote from the meet-and-greet, when he saw Mauro still chatting with a vocal city resident after the event had wrapped up.
Council member Amy Howard not only believes it appropriate to set “an incredibly high bar for expectations” for Port Townsend, but also wants a city manager who will raise that bar, and like Sandoval, she sees Mauro as the sort of “visionary” who’s up to that task.
“I also appreciate that he’s the only candidate who took the time to email a thank-you,” Howard said.
Fellow council member Pamela Adams commended the community, city staff and consultants with providing her with enough information that she felt “very confident” in selecting Mauro, not just because of his research into the city manager position or Port Townsend’s nonprofits, but also because of his background in man-made climate change issues.
“The climate action plan he was part of for Auckland is one of the best in the world,” Adams said.
Also, just as Sandoval called Mauro “likable,” so too did Adams judge him the “star” of the meet-and-greet, as he interacted with the public in a way that revealed to her that “he loves people.”
Bob Gray agreed with his fellow council members that each candidate contributed their own skills and strengths, but his mind was made up on behalf of Mauro by the public comments in his favor.
“Even before he’d applied, the public’s descriptions of their ideal candidate matched what we found in John,” Gray said. “He is going to be challenged by this community, but with his energy, I think he’s up for it.”
Council member April Speser chimed in via speakerphone to add her voice to those in favor of Mauro, for his energetic demeanor, his interview performances, his “ability to embrace and engage with the community,” and what she saw in his resume of his “commitment to working with local tribes.”
Although Speser was likewise impressed by Mauro’s understanding of climate change issues, she felt it was more important that Mauro “is a lifelong learner.”
Mayor Deborah Stinson capped off the consensus by summing up Mauro as “the right person at the right time” for Port Townsend, due to his smarts, curiosity and experience, and benefitting from Timmons’ “solid foundation” to be able to take the city “to the next level.”