BARSTOW - The empty chair behind the city manager's desk at City Hall may soon be filled, at least temporarily.

City Council members met in special session on Thursday to receive a list of candidates to serve as interim city manager until a permanent replacement is chosen. City Clerk JoAnne Cousino presented council members with 15 resumes, which they will rank on the basis of the candidates' qualifications, she said. Interviews could begin as early as next week.

"We have quite a few very well-qualified candidates," she said.

Cousino said the city went out for a statewide search for the interim candidate using referrals from other municipalities and the California League of Cities.

Four of the 15 candidates are from the High Desert and several are retired city administrators looking for temporary work because of restrictions in their public employees' retirement benefits, Cousino said.

Mayor Lawrence Dale said that he's looking for a temporary candidate with an extensive city administrative background. He said he's comfortable that Chief Dianne Burns can handle the management of the Barstow Police Department while an interim manager focuses on other departments.

"I believe we have met the goal to improve recruiting and retention at the Police Department," he said. "Our major focus is on city government."

He said that he would like to see the interim candidate begin implementing some of the recommendations of a management study recently performed by the Matrix Consulting Group. The report found that the more long-range planning, updating of decades old administrative policies and some staff reorganization is needed at the city.

Council member Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre said that experience dealing with growth is the biggest thing she's looking for in both a temporary and permanent manager.
"We're hitting a growth spurt here," she said.

She said that while she has confidence in the city's department heads to handle day to day operations, she fears that longer range planning isn't taking place without a designated manager.

"The biggest thing is keeping all of those balls up in the air and making sure nothing falls through the cracks," she said.

Among the interim applicants is Barstow Economic Development Director Ron Rector, who has served as acting city manager since former City Manager Hector Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave in early November.

The short list The following people have applied for the interim city manager position:
Bruce Arnoldussen
Douglas Dunlap
Mary JoAnne Esser
Gerald Forde
Bernardo Garcia
Raymond Griest
Anthony Lopez
Richard Oakley
Guy Patterson
Ron Rector
Fredrick C. Stouder
Clifford Swanson
Bruce Williams
Dick Watenpaugh
A former city manager from Needles, name not known.

Contact the writer: (760) 256-4126 or jason_smith@link.freedom.com