The Lakewood City Council narrowed to two the number of finalists vying to become the new city manager after five hours of closed-door interviews and discussion Tuesday.
The council will decide between Mountlake Terrace City Manager John Caulfield and Deputy Pierce County Executive Kevin Phelps to run the day-to-day operations of Pierce Countys second-largest city when the council reconvenes at 7 p.m. Thursday. Matthew Fulton, the former city manager of Coon Rapids, Minn., ended up the odd man out.
Caulfield received votes from all seven council members. Phelps received four votes and Fulton got three.
Mayor Don Anderson said the deciding factors were Fultons lack of familiarity with local issues and community players. Comments received from three panels that interviewed the finalists earlier in the day also helped seal Fultons fate. Two panels were made up of community members and one consisted of city staff.
Council members said they gave the community a chance to participate before finishing the interview process behind closed doors. State law allows closed-door meetings of public bodies to evaluate the qualifications of candidates for appointed office. The law bars the council from making a decision or deliberating toward one outside of public view.
The councils search for the third city manager in Lakewoods history began in February when Andrew Neiditz stepped down to lead South Sound 911. City Attorney Heidi Wachter has been serving as interim city manager.
Christian Hill: 253-274-7390