Politics & Government

4 remain as council whittles city manager candidates

The Tacoma City Council has chosen four city manager finalists, including at least two with previous ties to Washington.

The four will be in Tacoma next week for interviews and a public meet-and-greet.

Council members brought seven names forward at its regular meeting Tuesday night after an executive session in which they talked about the qualifications of candidates offered up by recruitment firm Colin Baenziger & Associates.

Of the seven, five won enough votes from the nine-member council to be named finalists. The council then decided to vote again on the two candidates who received a 5-4 split, since it originally planned to name only four finalists.

The second vote resulted in Aretha Ferrell-Benavides losing her spot. Michael Cernech and Patrick McDonnell didn’t get enough votes to make the list of finalists.

According to a news release from the city, the four finalists are:

Kristoff Bauer, deputy city manager for Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Kristoff Bauer

He previously was assistant and interim city manager in Fayetteville, and was city manager in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Billings, Montana. He’s also been assistant to the city manager in Shoreline. Bauer has a Juris Doctor degree as well as a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington.

Walter Bobkiewicz III, the city manager in Evanston, Illinois.

Walter Bobkiewicz III

He has been city manager of Santa Paula, California; assistant city manager in Novato, California; and held several management jobs for the city of Long Beach, California. He has a master’s of public administration from Syracuse University.

Robert Cowell Jr., deputy city manager in Amarillo, Texas.

Robert Cowell Jr.

He has been assistant and interim city manager in Armarillo; was planning director for College Station, Texas, and the Monroe County Plan Commission in Bloomington, Indiana. He also has worked in planning for other agencies and in the private sector.

Cowell has a master’s of science in urban planning with a specialization in land use from the University of Tennessee.

Belinda Graham, who is working with the city manager of Port Townsend to identify barriers to development, help with hiring a firm to create a subarea plan and other projects.

Belinda Graham

She previously was director of the development department and assistant city manager in Riverside, California. She was senior development specialist for the Riverside County Economic Development Agency in Riverside, and has a master’s of business administration from the University of Redlands.

The finalists will be interviewed by the City Council and city department heads May 11 and May 12.

Tacomans will get a chance meet the finalists during a forum and reception from 5:15 to 7 p.m. May 12 at the Tacoma Municipal Building. That forum will air live on TV Tacoma.

City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli has been interim city manager since T.C. Broadnax left earlier this year to become city manager of Dallas after a five-year stint in Tacoma.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud