4 finalists for new Community Development director

The field of candidates under consideration to lead the Juneau Community Development Department is down to four, Deputy City Manager Rob Steedle announced Friday.

After conducting interviews with applicants for the job 11 of whom were selected for initial interviewing, and then seven who advanced to the subsequent round of interviews Steedle said the four finalists had each stood out from the rest in a unique way.

“We had a very qualified field to begin with, so it was almost overwhelming how many good candidates there were,” Steedle said. “But in particular, we’re looking for a strong leader who is able to develop Juneau responsibly.”

The finalists include two Juneau residents: Planning Manager Greg Chaney, a longtime CDD employee, and former Assembly Member Katherine Eldemar, who sits on Goldbelt, Inc.’s board of directors. Rounding out the group of four are planning consultant Hal Hart of Bothell, Wash., and Edward James, vice chairman of the Lehi, Utah, planning commission.

Each of the four candidates is distinguished from the others by background. Chaney is the only candidate from inside the City and Borough of Juneau government, for which he has worked since 1996. Eldemar brings a legal background to the table, having worked as both an lawyer in private practice and a commissioner for Washington’s Whatcom County Superior Court. Hart is a veteran of city, county and state governmental work in Washington. James is unique in that he is a licensed architect as well as a planner, with experience in both the public and private sectors.

James said he is “excited” to be one of the finalists. He said he is flying up to Alaska, to which he said he has never been, on Sunday.

“When I applied for the position, I did some research, and I kind of recognize that Juneau has some very unusual and unique situations,” said James. “And that kind of intrigued me. … I was mostly interested in the opportunity to do some planning on some interesting issues there.”

Steedle said the four candidates will be evaluated in Assembly Chambers on Monday and Tuesday by scenario testing, a process called Assessment Center he said is only used for certain positions due to its staff-intensive nature.

“Basically, we create a realistic scenario for which there’s no right solution and give them a complex problem to resolve,” Steedle explained. “It’s the sort of thing they’re going to be dealing with throughout their tenure as CDD director.”

Steedle said he hopes to announce a hiring decision by the first week of July, but cautioned it was possible the Assessment Center testing might not yield a clear favorite, which could delay the decision.

“It depends on what we learn during the Assessment Center,” said Steedle.

Many of the Assessment Center exercises will be open to the public. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday and 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, with a break from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on the latter day, the public can view the proceedings. A reception at 5 p.m. in the Assembly Chambers will follow Tuesday’s exercises.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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