Fairfield City Council to debate merits of 11 city manager candidates today

Fairfield City Council will meet on Wednesday to go over 11 of 29 resumes of people that applied to be the city of Fairfield's city manager. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
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Fairfield City Council will meet on Wednesday to go over 11 of 29 resumes of people that applied to be the city of Fairfield's city manager. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Nearly 30 applied for city manager job, but Cincinnati executive search firm recommended less than half the candidates.

Among the city manager candidates seeking Fairfield’s top administrative post, one was fired from a similar job and another resigned after being nearly fired.

There are also two candidates with no experience leading a city, village, or township, and two candidates currently not employed, according to their resumes.

The search for the new Fairfield city manager has been ongoing since December and has included a multi-month “pause,” and a debate on whether to hire a search firm before interviewing an internal candidate who has since left the city.

Fairfield received nearly 30 applications for the city manager position over a five-week period. The executive search firm Management Parnters, Inc., of Cincinnati, recommended 11 of the candidates, including Doug Adkins, who was removed as Middletown’s city manager in December 2019, and Fairfield Twp. Administrator Julie Vonderhaar.

The resumes of Adkins, Vonderhaar and the remaining nine top applicants will be discussed in an executive session meeting scheduled for Wednesday, said Councilman Dale Paullus, who’s been leading City Council’s search process. The councilman declined to comment further until after Wednesday’s meeting, but he did say there’s no timeline on the process right now.

City Council met with Management Partners last week when the board was given the 11 recommended names. Seven of the candidates are from Ohio. Besides Adkins, a practicing attorney in Fairfield, and Vonderhaar, the other Ohio candidates include:

  • Reynoldsburg Director of Development Andrew Bowsher
  • Forest Park Economic Development director Paul Brehm
  • Louisville City Manager Larry Collins
  • Reading Safety Services Director Patrick Ross
  • Miami Twp. Administrator Jeffrey Wright

Bowsher and Ross do not have previous top executive experience, according to their resumes. Brehm is in his second stint as Forest Park’s Economic Development director but was the village manager with Silverton from 2011 to 2013. Wright has been with Miami Twp. since 2015 but was previously Milford’s city manager.

Collins spent his career in the fire service, and when he was fire chief in Ann Arbor, he also served as acting city administrator. Since 2018, he’s been the top executive with Louisville, Ohio.

Among the non-Ohio candidates, Greenbelt, Md. City Manager Nicole Ard was the Sandusky city manager in northern Ohio. Charles Town, W. Va. City Manager Daryl Hennessy, who is also the town’s treasurer, was previously the chief economic development officer for the Ohio Development Services Agency, now known as the Ohio Department of Development.

Former Forney, Texas, city manager Anthony Carson was nearly fired in February by his city council but ended up resigning in April, according to InForney.com. Former Covington, Ky., City Manager David Johnston abruptly resigned in June after a 90-minute executive session, according to multiple news outlets.

Fairfield has been without a full-time city manager since Wendling’s unexpected resignation. Fairfield Fire Chief Don Bennett has been acting city manager since mid-December, as well as maintaining his fire chief responsibilities.

Council hired Management Partners Inc. in May to conduct a regional search at the cost of $24,500, plus costs.

Since Wendling left, the city also lost two assistant city managers. Dan Wendt left in January to be Vandalia’s city manager. Scott Timmer replaced Wendt and left last month by Butler County to be the assistant county administrator. Some on City Council wanted to interview Timmer this past spring for the city manager job.

TOP CITY MANAGER CANDIDATES

There are 11 recommended candidates for Fairfield city manager. They include:

  • Doug Adkins, Butler County attorney and former Middletown city manager
  • Nicole Ard, Greenbelt, Md., city manager
  • Andrew Bowsher, Reynoldsburg director of development
  • Paul Brehm, Forest Park Economic Development director
  • Anthony Carson, former Forney, Texas, city manager
  • Larry Collins, Louisville, Ohio, city manager
  • Daryl Hennessy, Charles Town, W.Va. city manager and treasurer
  • David Johnston, former Covington, Ky., city manager
  • Patrick Ross, Reading Safety Services director
  • Julie Vonderhaar, Fairfield Twp. administrator and zoning administrator
  • Jeffrey Wright, Miami Twp. township administrator