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By Anna Lothson
While Oak Park village trustees expressed satisfaction with the pool of six finalists interviewed last week for the open village manager position, a final choice may still be some time off, said Village President David Pope Monday.
Six finalists for the post, open since the previous village manager resigned in late February, were in Oak Park last weekend having arrived from locations across the country, officials said. Village trustees interviewed each trustee in closed sessions held at the Carleton Hotel on the recently upgraded Marion Street. Trustees held further executive sessions to discuss personnel matters both before and after Monday night's village board meeting.
Pope and other trustees expressed confidence in the pool of candidates interviewed, but he said a decision is expected to be made only "within the coming weeks."
Pope wasn't able to specify how many weeks that would be, but said the process is moving along. He said the interviews were "very positive" and brought in an array of "highly capable candidates."
The search process commenced in March, following the resignation of Tom Barwin on Feb. 21. The search for a search firm to help steer the process ended in May when Slavin Management Consultants was hired to lead the effort. Applicants had until late August to express their interest and, in the end, there were 41 applications. That list was initially culled to 13 and last weekend at the Carleton, six candidates were interviewed by the village board.
Trustee Adam Salzman said in an interview Monday said he was pleased with the progress, but said there's work to be done.
"We gained some significant clarity, but we aren't quite at the end of the process yet," he said. He believes the board will be able to make an offer shortly. "I think we're on track to have someone in place relatively early in 2013. I think the general sense is that the process has gone very well."
Salzman said the search cast a wide net across the country and the final six candidates brought in reflected the diverse geographical search.
Trustees initially had a goal of hiring a candidate in September, but the extensive process executed by Slavin along with a number of trustee scheduling conflicts were cited as reasons for the pushback. Slavin is receiving up to $21,490 for its work in the search.
Cara Pavlicek, the village's longtime parking director, has been serving as interim village manager since March 1. It is not known if she was a candidate for the position since the application and interview process has been held in private.
Trustees John Hedges and Glenn Brewer echoed their colleagues' thoughts, saying the applicants were "highly qualified." They too were confident the next village manager is in the group of candidates interviewed last weekend. Hedges said per Slavin's recruiting process, trustees had been provided a lot of background on each candidate and they were then able to speak with each candidate for at least an hour.
"I thought [Slavin] did very well. He was very organized and very helpful," Hedges said. "I thought he was very effective."