4 finalists chosen for Fort Worth city manager

Posted Friday, Feb. 14, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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The Fort Worth City Council has selected four finalists, all from outside the city, for the open city manager position.

The council hired the Whitney Smith Co., a human resources consulting and executive search firm, to conduct a national search after City Manager Tom Higgins announced his retirement in October. He had spent nearly 30 years with the city.

The council started with about 35 applicants, reviewing the candidates in multiple hours-long meetings that began Jan. 28.

Mayor Betsy Price has said the candidates must be fiscally responsible and comfortable with handling a tight budget, be knowledgeable about pension reforms, have industry experience as well as city government experience, and be innovative and tech-savvy.

In a nutshell, the city is looking for “Superman or Superwoman” and may have to raise the salary to stay competitive, Price has said. Higgins makes $233,400.

The finalists are:

• Milton R. Dohoney Jr., former city manager, Cincinnati.

Dohoney was appointed city manager of Cincinnati in August 2006, overseeing more than 5,000 employees and a combined budget of $1 billion, according to a news release.

Dohoney established a number of initiatives to help increase jobs, invest in neighborhoods, keep the community safe and provide improved services, such as the Neighborhood Enhancement Program, an effort to address blight and crime.

The program was nationally recognized in 2008, receiving a Neighborhoods USA Best Neighborhood Program, Physical Revitalization Award.

Dohoney has over 25 years of local government experience, spending most of his career in Louisville, Ky. He has been a full-time and part-time faculty member at three universities and worked in labor relations in the private sector.

• Craig Malin, city administrator, Davenport, Iowa

Malin was made the Davenport city administrator in 2001. He has served under four mayors and eight two-year-term city councils, doubling the record for tenure in the position.

Malin has three master’s degrees — in public administration, in human resources development, and in urban planning and policy. He is a graduate of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and is enrolled online in Johns Hopkins University’s communications master’s program.

His tenure in Davenport has coincided with a 60 percent decrease in crime and more than $2 billion in tax base growth, with significant infrastructure investment and targeted efforts to revitalize the riverfront, downtown and neighborhoods.

He has also been involved in county government, a regional planning commission, a park district and three other municipalities.

• Mark McDaniel, city manager, Tyler

McDaniel has more than 27 years of experience in local government management, with service in five Texas cities. McDaniel became Tyler city manager in January 2009.

He served as deputy city manager and city manager designate for Tyler from 2004 until his appointment as city manager. Previously, he was an assistant city manager for Corpus Christi, where he was responsible for administrative and financial services. He also served as the economic development director.

McDaniel has completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard and is a past president of the Texas City Management Association.

He is also an adjunct faculty member in the University of Texas at Tyler’s public administration graduate school program and is on the advisory board for the Tyler Junior College public administration program.

• Joyce Wilson, city manager, El Paso

Wilson was appointed El Paso’s first city manager in 2004 after a city charter amendment established a council-manager form of government.

She has over 25 years of local government experience, including in Virginia and Arizona. Her areas of expertise include fiscal management, customer-focused service delivery and community revitalization.

She has overseen significant infrastructure investments in communities undergoing rapid growth and in those experiencing substantial economic decline.

She has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

The search

The Whitney Smith Co. interviewed the city’s employee groups — police, fire and general — and talked to local chambers of commerce about what they would like to see in a city manager. The groups were not allowed to interview candidates directly.

The finalists will be brought to Fort Worth for another round of in-person interviews with the City Council on Feb. 25, according to a news release.

In a previous interview, Price said that the finalists will be given a tour of the city, potentially including a helicopter flyover, and that their spouses will also be invited.

The past several city managers, including Higgins, were selected from internal candidates, and the most recent external candidate left Fort Worth in August 2004.

Price had said internal candidates applied for the position but would not say how many.

Higgins took over as interim city manager in early 2011 and was given the job later that year.

Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984 Twitter: @catyhirst

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