The residents told Bobbi Peckham of Peckham & McKenney Executive Search, the firm retained by the city council to find candidates for city manager, about the qualities and experience they want in a new city manager and what they think about the community and city government.
“I’m waiting for someone to tell me their viewpoint, their perspective. That’s critical to me,” Peckham said after the hour-long meeting in the City Hall council chambers.
She told those who attended that she expects to find the very best candidates for Tracy.
“I think that this opportunity should be very attractive to people because of what is anticipated here in Tracy,” Peckham said during the meeting.
Mike Donaghy, chairman of the board for the Tracy Chamber of Commerce, told Peckham that the city manager should not only continue the business practices the city has undertaken in the past few years but also be accessible to the public.
“I think our former city manager was visible and attended a lot of community events, and I think it’s important the new city manager be involved in the community as well,” Donaghy said.
Resident Robert Tanner said he hopes Peckham finds city manager candidates who are familiar with what Tracy is going through right now.
“I’d like to see a manager possibly coming from a small town that’s now becoming a mid-sized or much larger town so that we have that experience,” Tanner said to Peckham, adding that he believes Tracy is on the verge of even more growth.
Tanner said the priorities for the city manager must be a balance between jobs and quality of life in Tracy.
“If I look at even balances between housing and jobs, you would have to add a third one on there: recreation,” Tanner said, referring to the Legacy Fields youth sports complex and a planned aquatic center.
Tracy resident Michel Bazinet told Peckham he thinks the city manager should guide the government to behave more like a business.
“I think that one of the more important characteristics of the person that should be city manager is somebody who looks at community outreach much the same way as organizations look at customer service,” Bazinet said.
Peckham said the points brought up in the meeting were things she had heard before during interviews with the City Council members, city managers and other community members, with one exception:
“(It was) more supportive than I had anticipated. Supportive of the organization, which is wonderful to hear,” she said after the workshop.
Businessman Dave Helm was the first to praise the city staff.
“The staff here does a great job, but they’re just stretched thin,” Helm said, adding that the economy has impacted what Tracy was known for.
“People’s expectation is that you move to Tracy because they’ve got good service, and they want that same service, but the dollars aren’t there.”
“I know the city’s had significant budget cuts (and) personnel cuts. I think they’re doing a pretty darn good job,” the West Valley Mall manager said. “My experience with the city is: They do a lot more right than wrong, and it’s been a very good experience working with the folks down here at the city.”
Peckham said after the meeting that the residents’ positive feelings about the city could help convince some candidates to apply.
“That’s encouraging to me. It’s easier for me to recruit if I have a sense of what everyone is thinking or feeling,” she said.
Peckham added that the size of the crowd was also an indication that the city is generally doing a good job.
“Not having a lot of people show up gives me the sense that a lot of things are OK,” she said.
Peckham told the group she intends to recruit aggressively and hopes to have a new city manager in place by September. Peckham added that residents can still offer comments through email at email@example.com.
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4231.