The process of choosing a city manager will be moving forward soon, after the Westminster City Council Wednesday night outlined the next steps to selecting the top appointed city official.
After a closed session of the council, City Attorney Richard Jones reported on the procedures agreed to by the council to be followed. They include:
- A total of 48 applications for the position have been received. The city council will then review the applications and each council member will identify five persons they wish to be interviewed.
- Those nominated for an interview will be subject to a “preliminary background investigation using a professional.”
- An interview date will be set, based on how many people will be interviewed.
- If the council selects a candidate or candidates, a comprehensive background check – to be conducted by a professional outside firm – would follow before a contract is offered for the position.
- The deadline for the list of candidates to be interviewed is Wednesday, Dec. 16 “at the close of business.”
For Westminster, choosing a new city manager has traveled along a long and bumpy road. Eddie Manfro, who served in that role since July 2012, resigned effective Feb. 29, 2020. Sherry Johnson, the city’s finance director, was chosen as interim city manager.
In July it appeared the council majority had a selection, Chuong (Chu) N. Thai, but revelations about his employment record caused an invitation to be withdrawn.
At his last public employer – the City of Monterey Park, where he worked as director of management services – he was placed on administrative leave and eventually terminated for questionable conduct including use of a city-issued credit card and his relationship with a person bidding on a city contract worth $600,000 to $700,000.
He served as administrative services director for the City of Stanton from April to August 2013, leaving employment there under a “separation agreement.”
He was director of management services for Monterey Park from January 2014 to April 2017 when he was terminated. He is currently involved in a lawsuit with that city.
Critics have accused the council of being willing to hire a problematic candidate because he was Vietnamese. Four of the five council members are Vietnamese-Americans. Terry Rains, a community activist, reminded the council before the closed session that race could not legally be used as criteria for employment for that position.
Johnson’s contract as interim city manager is set to run through Feb. 13, 2021.