Four in the running for city development post

Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Four finalists for the city's Community Development Department director position shared insights into their leadership styles Tuesday before a panel of assessors from the department and a group of city employees and interested citizens.

The public forum was the fourth step in a five-part interview process, said city Personnel Director Joan Wilkerson. She said the candidates were to meet with the city manager and deputy city manager today for their final interviews before references are called. A hiring decision may be made by the end of the week.

The Community Development Department regulates local development and provides staff

assistance to the Juneau Planning Commission.

"This is a very high-profile position that spends a great deal of time in front of the public," Wilkerson said.

Candidates have taken a written test on planning matters, undergone conflict resolution role-playing and fact-gathering exercises, spoken before the public, and had a formal interview.

"The person may look really good on paper but they could turn out to have a bad temper or some other quality that would not be good for our community," Wilkerson said.

The audience Tuesday peppered candidates with questions on issues affecting the city including flight noise, transportation, fishing, smart growth and making unpopular planning decisions.

Candidate Keith Selman, who has worked as a planning director in Laredo, Texas, said his philosophy is the community should dictate how the city is planned.

He said it was his job along with the department to create a comprehensive plan based on what the people want and to come up with actions needed to implement the plan.

Selman said he has worked extensively on transportation noise-control issues with local airports. He said he recognized Juneau faces similar issues and shared his solutions, such as sound-proofing houses, as ways of dealing with the problem.

Candidate Robert Bright, who has held planning positions in Valdez and Ketchikan, said he takes a holistic approach to planning.

"As you mature as a planner you start to look at the big picture to see how to resolve community conflicts," he said. "The community has a vision. And they need to understand where it's going as a community, where it wants to be in five or 10 years, how it sees itself, and we have to come up with a plan that involves all that."

Bright said he doesn't want the community to see itself as divided between residential and commercial interests.

Candidate Dale Pernula, whose last planning position was in Idaho, said he is sensitive to environmental issues in terms of impacts on developers as well as the people who don't want to see natural beauty and wildlife disturbed. He said he tries to weigh the importance of new additions with the impacts they will have on the community.

Candidate Raymond Miller, who has been a planning director in Washington state, said his experience has been with mitigating the damage done by over-development.

Miller said he doesn't want to prohibit people from building, but wants to make sure they give back to the community. He also said he hopes to be an effective team leader.

"I like to operate with real-world thinking," he said. "I want to develop the people on my team and be a mentor. I also want to get them to be creative in planning for the community."

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