The seven Johnson County commissioners discussed a possible process and timeline Thursday to complete their county manager search, but came to no conclusions.
They are trying to figure out how to proceed to replace longtime manager Hannes Zacharias, whose contract expired Dec. 31 and was not renewed. Penny Postoak Ferguson has been appointed interim county manager.
One scenario calls for the commissioners to try to have interviews with finalist candidates at the end of April. But some commissioners think the selection should actually wait until after the November elections, when four of the seven commission seats are up for election — those held by Commission Chair Ed Eilert and by commissioners Michael Ashcraft, Ron Shaffer and Jason Osterhaus.
“I don’t see the rush,” Commissioner Jim Allen told his colleagues, adding it might be prudent to wait, so if voters pick new elected officials, those leaders would have a say in what they are seeking in a new manager.
Allen pointed out that the Shawnee Mission School Board chose not to finalize the new superintendent selection until after the 2017 elections. A school board with some new members will be seated next week, and the superintendent search continues.
Eilert handed out a tentative schedule that called for potential executive search firms to respond to the county in a few weeks, selection of a search firm in early February, posting of the job in early March and interviews with final candidates by late April.
“It could take four to five months to complete,” Eilert said.
But Commissioner Steve Klika suggested taking more time before a search firm is picked. Commissioners said they wanted more information about how a search would be conducted, how potential candidates would be recruited, and what the range of fees would be for the search.
The commission asked the human resources department to bring back more information about potential search firms, both local and national, in a few weeks.