The finalists for East Lansing city manager met with residents at a public forum Wednesday evening.
The next step in the process is today, when the city council will conduct interviews with all five.
The council is scheduled to make a selection on Friday.
WKAR's Scott Pohl spoke with East Lansing mayor Diane Goddeeris about what she and her colleagues on the city council are looking for in the search's final days.
DIANE GODDEERIS: Each candidate will be asked the same series of questions that we have developed over the course of the past months, related to our community profile, which was put together with citizen input, council input, around their experience and expertise in their different roles that they've had prior to coming to East Lansing.
The interviews will last about an hour. We're structuring them so that there's a little gap as we switch from one to the other, and so it's a five-hour day with the five candidates.
SCOTT POHL: If one were to enter this process with the assumption that any of the five would be qualified for the job, is there one factor or quality in a candidate that you're hoping will make one of them stand out above the others?
GODDEERIS: Well for me personally, I'm looking for someone with some really strong financial experience, especially in the municipal area of government. Knowing what's happened in Michigan, and different ways to address some of the concerns we've had with declining revenues, and what things they might have put in place in their city or township, wherever they're coming from, or in their job position currently. Showing that expertise in actual outcomes is important.
I want someone that's a strong communicator, that can build a rapport with people. We have a university that we want to have engaged with us. We have the legislature that we want to be able to talk to. We want the citizens, of course, that they should be able to have a good relationship with. And, we want them to understand our community, which a large proportion of that is students. It's not just a city; it's a community that that has a whole lot of different attributes that aren't necessarily found in every place else in Michigan.
POHL: Other than the public forum on Wednesday night, will this be the first face to face meeting with some of these candidates?
GODDEERIS: It is for the ones that are coming from outside. It's the first chance that citizens will see them, and the council members. I believe a lot of the council members have been doing research in addition to the information that they've received. This is a state where you know a lot of people, and so going into those communities and hearing how those people might have been operating there is also helpful to each of us, but that's stuff that we've probably done on our own.
POHL: Not having conducted these interviews yet, what would you say are the odds of a 5-0 vote to choose one of these candidates on Friday?
GODDEERIS: Well, I hope through the process, with our consultant's support, that we will get to the same decision. That's the ideal. That's the way the process is supposed to work. And so, my hope is that we are there. I feel in our discussions, we'll show the strengths. I can't predict, but one is hopeful that we're going to have concensus with strong support for our next city manager.
POHL: The city manager would get off, you would think, to a solid start if there is some unanimity on the council. Would you agree?
GODDEERIS: Oh, absolutely. It would be important for me to have that, and I think it'll be important to that candidate as well, and that's what I believe we're all going to work towards.