FULTON, Ill. — As the retirement of Fulton City Administrator Randy Balk draws closer, the task of finding a replacement is high on Mayor Larry Russell’s to-do list.
Balk’s last day as administrator is Oct. 31, so Russell and a review board composed of local business owners and city officials must have a selection in place by early September.
Applications have flooded in since the city started advertising the position, and the selection committee has narrowed the search down from 40 candidates last week to 15 on Tuesday.
“Fifteen really quality candidates are left; now we have the difficult task of narrowing it down even more,” Russell said. “We have a committee of six doing screening, and they will come up with the top five or six candidates, which we’ll then do detailed interviews with.”
Once the committee can narrow the selection down to two or three applicants, the group will then open the final round of interviews to the City Council and members of the public who would like to spectate.
Although the identities of the 15 candidates have been confidential to this point, Russell said each one is highly qualified for the position and has a strong background in management experience.
“The candidates are a mixture of city managers and other high-management positions,” Russell said. “They might not all have experience running a city, but there are certainly parallels.”
Whether the candidate is qualified is one question, but another question is will the new administrator establish a good working relationship with city officials.
Balk has held the position for nearly 13 years and, according to Russell, has worked diligently with the City Council to make things run as smoothly as possible.
“We have a really good working relationship with the current city administrator so that is something we are striving for with the next (one),” Russell said.
Balk informed the council of his decision to retire in the spring and said after 13 years he feels it is his time to step away from the city administrator position and possibly pursue a career in economic development.
Since telling the council of his retirement, Balk has been involved with organizing a search to find a suitable candidate to fill his soon-to-be vacant seat.
Russell and Balk are not the only city officials helping organize the search, and soon the entire City Council will have an opportunity to meet with the potential candidates to finalize a decision.
“We’re going to try our best to get a unanimous recommendation to the council,” Russell said. “The fact that the council will get to meet the candidates and get their own impressions, I don’t think there will be any controversy in making a (final) selection.”
Once the recommendation is approved by the council, the new city administrator position should be filled by the middle of October.
Russell feels the selection committee is on pace to make the deadline and attributes hours of hard work for staying on schedule.
“This is one time when the City Council and the mayor have to step up and say ‘this is one of the most important jobs we have’,” Russell said. “I praise everybody for putting in a lot of time and I’m pleased with where we’re at right now.”