A decision to select the firm that will assist in the recruitment of Oak Park’s Village Manager may be made as early as May 7, a week after interviews with the four finalists.

The search, recently narrowed from a field of 11, consists of companies that span multiple states and a variety of expertise, all of which have experience in high-level municipality positions, according to Village Trustee Colette Lueck

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the village. I think we really have strong candidates. I’m hoping in this market there will be some strong [Village manager] candidates.”

Lueck said the goal was to narrow down the list to three or four firms, who were chosen based on a proven commitment to community outreach, engaging the public, and working with village leaders.

The firm finalists include Affion Public from Pennsylvania, Bob Murray and Associates from California, Slavin Management Consultants from Georgia, and Voorhees Associates from Deerfield.

The single Illinois finalist is due, in large part, to the small pool of applicants from the area, Lueck said. Although it surprised her that more from Illinois didn’t apply, she didn’t think it would matter in finding the best candidate.

Detailed explanations of past processes, getting to know Oak Park, and developing a process in collaboration with village staff were other key components in the selection. References to community focus groups were elements that made the four rise to the top.

Trustee Ray Johnson agreed that past experience working with municipalities in concise and compelling ways made each of the search firms viable candidates. He said the board also chose candidates that matched their timeline of hiring a new manager by Sept. 1.

“They have a wide range of experiences in hiring an individual,” Johnson said. “They all presented really good and compelling references.”

Although the costs are not available since the firms are competing against each other, he said, the proposed costs are all within a competitive range.

The next step in the process begins on May 1 at 6 p.m., when each of the firms will be given one hour to present themselves to the board one final time. The board will have the opportunity to ask questions and get a more detailed overview of each firm.

The board expected to make its decision at its May 7 meeting after reviewing materials from the presentations. Once a decision has been made, the firm will execute the search for candidates and likely narrow it down to about 10 people before coming back to the village board’s table.

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