On Tuesday morning, Ann Arbor chief of police Barnett Jones received an update suggesting that his patrol officers are enforcing the law uniformly across all vehicles. A taxicab carrying the two finalists for the Ann Arbor city administrator’s position – Ellie Oppenheim and Steve Powers – had executed a rolling stop, and was pulled over. Powers reported that the officer was professional and matter-of-fact.
The cab was driving the two finalists to city hall, where they were interviewed by city councilmembers and senior staff – including Jones – in a round-robin format, cycling through three small groups to answer questions about their experience, abilities and approach to the job. A third finalist, Harry Black, had withdrawn his name from consideration last weekend.
In addition to Jones, conducting the interviews were councilmembers Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), mayor John Hieftje, and city attorney Stephen Postema.
Each had been given briefing books prepared by the city’s human resources staff and consultants with Affion Public, a search firm hired by the city. The three panels consisted of (1) Briere, Rapundalo and Postema; (2) Hieftje, Higgins and Kunselman; and (3) Anglin, Derezinski and Jones.
Questions were essentially read aloud as scripts from these prepared materials to ensure uniformity of the interviewing experience. One or two questions were fairly general, for example: What do you think makes a good leader? But the majority were behavioral: Tell us about a time when your leadership skills were put to the test and what the outcome was.
The interviews were part of a two-day process, and included a lunch on Tuesday with staff and a public reception on Tuesday evening at the new municipal center, which featured five-minute presentations from each candidate, as well as time for informal conversations. On Wednesday, the finalists will be interviewed in city council chambers from 8 a.m. to noon. That session, which is open to the public, will also be videotaped and broadcast live on Channel 16 to allow viewing of the interviews by councilmembers and the public who are not able to attend.
It’s possible that a resolution making the appointment could be on the council’s July 18 agenda.
The Chronicle sat in on all interviews held Tuesday morning. This article reports on the responses by Powers. A separate article describes how Oppenheim responded to the interview questions. Because candidates often offered similar examples as answers to different sets of questions, their responses are summarized thematically.