Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Steve Shute, Gardner mayor, shelved plans to name his preferred choice for city administrator during the March 18 meeting and instead said the meeting would adjourn to an executive session where contract negotiations would be discussed.
Shute said that on advice of counsel he had decided it would be unfair to the candidates to name one of them ahead of contract negotiations. Information will be forthcoming.
During a March 11 ‘meet and greet’ reception with the three finalists for the city’s top job, Shute had indicated he would make his choice of candidate in open session during the March 18 meeting and then let council members decide whether to accept or reject his choice.
The three finalists for the job are Jim Pruetting, Gardner police chief, Nicholas Edwards, Lee’s Summit city administrator, and Brian Wilson, Belleville, Wisc., Village administrator.
Shute said any insinuation that the selection process has not been transparent and fair was wrong and he listed the steps the city took to ensure an objective process.
He said the city entered into an $11,500 recruitment contract with the League of Kansas Municipalities (LKM) which advertised for the position in regional and national publication attracting 48 applicants.
He said the League used a metric designed for administrators to rank the applicants and presented the results to the city for further review.
“There were only four women applicants, and they were all ranked as unqualified,” he said.
Shute added that together with Laura Gourley, city administrator, and Alan Abramovitz, human resource manager, he determined the seven candidates who faced the 11 person selection committee which then named the three finalists.
“I don’t know how much more thorough we can be on this process,” he said.
Lee Moore, council president, said that the screening committee was very cross-functional , and the process was thorough and comprehensive.
“I was very satisfied with what I perceived to be a very objective process,” Moore said.
The selection committee consisted of the mayor, city council president and vice president, three citizens (one selected by each of the remaining council members), Gardner Edgerton chamber board representative, Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corporation representative, USD 231 school board representative, Johnson County Fire District No. 1 representative, and the Gourley, interim city administrator.
Cheryl Harrison-Lee, former administrator, resigned in September, 2018, and received a more than $300,000 buy out.