The candidates who will be interviewed are James Ayers, Mark Kutney, Amanda Miller, John Miller, Robert Rokovitz and William Watson.
Those six candidates received at least two endorsements from members of the City Council. Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt was absent from the meeting.
A representative from the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service ranked the 57 people who had applied for the job. The city stopped receiving applications on Jan. 30.
Of the top five ranked applicants, only Kutney will be called for an interview. The interviews for the finalists will happen over a two-day period of April 29-30, at 5:30 p.m.
Christopher Dorsey, the former Red Bank City Manager, was ranked number two on the MTAS list. His name was put forward by Councilman Denny Manning during last week’s City Council meeting.
“I’ve talked to him,” Manning said. “He loves the city and everybody here. He would love to be here. He did a good job at Red Bank. We need someone to help us go forward.”
Mayor Brent Lambert was blunt in his assessment of Dorsey.
He said he liked Dorsey personally and said that he did good work at Red Bank. However, Dorsey turned down the job of East Ridge City Manager after being offered a salary of $120,000 per year, only to take another job for $30,000 less a year less.
“That was a bitter pill to swallow,” Lambert said. “It’s hard not to be insulted by that. I can’t overcome that, personally.”
Ayers is currently the General Services Director in Asheville, N.C. He has various certifications in government expertise related to economic development. Formerly, he was an assistant City Manager in Bluffton, S.C. Lambert said “he’s got a good skill set.”
East Ridge city officials have been unable to confirm that Ayers is available to take the job.
Kutney has experience as both a city manager and deputy city manager. Lambert said he has a background in community development and city planning.
Amanda Miller, a longtime, well-repected city employee, served for many years as an assistant to Freida Wheeler, at the time the city’s Director of Services.
Councilman Jacky Cagle was high on Miller, saying she has experience in grant writing, formulating a budget, is familiar with the byzantine vagaries of the Border Region Act and is well-versed in economic development issues.
“I feel like if we give her an opportunity she can walk right in,” said Cagle. “
John Miller, who is in his mid-60s, had recently retired, but Councilman Larry Sewell said he spoke over the phone with the man who said, “retirement is not for me.”
Miller served for eight years as the city manager in Leavenworth, Kansas. This prompted Lambert to say, “he’s got a way of getting along with people even through the changes of council.”
Sewell said Miller is living in Asheville, N.C. and has ties to the area.
“I liked talking to him,” Sewell said. “He seems genuine.
Lambert said he wanted to add a name to be interviewed, Robert Rokovitz. His name was not on the list put forward in last week’s council meeting.
Rokovitz has a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Kennesaw State University. He served as City Manager of Hiram, Georgia from 2012 to 2015. Previously he had served as City Manager in Cedertown, Georgia for two years.
Watson, according to Councilman Cagle, is serving in some capacity with the Rhea County School Board, so he is relatively local. Cagle said that Watson is familiar with MTAS.
The council also approved removing a fence at Camp Jordan which will be replaced by a concrete barricade provided by TDOT. The city intends to plant 72 trees behind the barricade in October. Stump Martin, Director of Parks and Recreation, said those trees will be planted this fall.