The two Ann Arbor city administrator finalists – Ellie Oppenheim and Steve Powers – wrapped up their two days of interviews in Ann Arbor with a Wednesday morning session that included presentations by both candidates and questions from city councilmembers.
From left: Ann Arbor city councilmembers Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) at the July 13 interviews with two finalists for the city administrator job. Higgins is chair of the council search committee.
For their 10-minute presentations, Oppenheim and Powers had been asked to talk about what they’d try to accomplish in their first 90 days on the job. They covered much of the same ground that they’d discussed during Tuesday’s round-robin interviews with councilmembers and senior staff, talking about how they’d familiarize themselves with the organization and the community of Ann Arbor. [See detailed Chronicle coverage of those Tuesday sessions for Powers and Oppenheim.]
When asked during the Q&A to describe the most challenging part of their presentation, both joked that it was handling PowerPoint – Oppenheim had difficulty advancing the slides and eventually enlisted the aid of a city staffer, and Powers’ presentation included a blank slide, because he couldn’t figure out how to insert the image he wanted to use. Powers also noted that it was difficult to know how much of his sense of humor to show in this context – his wife, for example, had advised him to delete some slides that he’d included.
Seven of the 11 councilmembers were on hand for the presentations and follow-up questions: Mayor John Hieftje, Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Steve Kunselman (Ward 3), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1). The other four councilmembers are expected to watch a video of the session prior to Monday’s council meeting. There will be a resolution on the July 18 agenda to nominate a candidate, but no name will be added to the resolution until the evening of the meeting.
Higgins, who’s chair of the search committee, told her council colleagues that on Monday a candidate will be nominated, a discussion of that nomination will take place, and hopefully the council will arrive at a consensus, she said. Or it’s possible that councilmembers will decide they don’t yet have an acceptable candidate, she added, and the process will continue.
However, based on a nearly hour-long discussion on Wednesday among councilmembers, it seems that a consensus is coalescing in favor of Powers – though both finalists were praised. Powers’ management style and familiarity with Michigan’s economy and governance structure were among the reasons cited by those councilmembers who are leaning toward hiring him.
This report briefly summarizes the presentations of Powers and Oppenheim, as well as the questions they were asked on Wednesday morning. The discussion among councilmembers at the end of the session is reported in detail. [Full Story]