City close to hiring new city manager

The Sunnyside City Council made its choice for a new city manager following a hour-long executive session last night. Now all that is left is finalizing a contract that will bring him to Sunnyside.

Mayor Ed Prilucik said he expects to have a report before Council at the April 12 meeting regarding whether the city has officially hired a new city manager.

Following last night's executive session, Council made the unanimous suggestion to offer a city manager contract to Robert Stockwell of Provo, Utah.

Prilucik told the audience following last night's executive session that 17 people had initially applied for the open city manager position, which has been vacant since January, following the resignation of Dave Fonfara. Council then whittled the list of applicants down to eight for individual interviews. From the eight interviews, Council opted to go with three candidates to conduct more extensive background checks. Prilucik said last week one of the three finalists requested to be removed from the list. The two remaining finalists for the city manager position were Stockwell and Scott McClure of Brush, Col.

Stockwell was laid off last September from his position as vice president of corporate development for CeriStar, Inc. in Salt Lake City. He is also the former city administrative officer for the city of Provo, which is a town of 112,000 residents. Stockwell is the former city manager of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Stockwell held the position in the town of 35,000 people for five years. Stockwell earned his Bachelor of Science degree in justice administration from Brigham Young University in 1974. He also holds a Master's in public administration, which he obtained from BYU in 1979.

McClure holds a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and a Master's in public administration. McClure is the current city administrator in Brush, where he also served as assistant city administrator. McClure also formerly worked in Gresham, Ore., as the city's management analyst.

This past weekend, Mayor Pro-tem Mike Farmer and Councilmen Don Vlieger and Bruce Ricks traveled to Utah and Colorado on a fact-finding mission concerning the final two candidates.

Vlieger told the Council that going into this past weekend, he had his personal favorite for the position. Vlieger, though, said he changed his mind following the contacts the Council trio made during the weekend excursion.

"There is nothing like meeting an individual in his hometown," said Vlieger.

Vlieger said he was very impressed with what he learned about Stockwell and recommended hiring him for the city manager position.

Ricks said Stockwell is his top pick for the city manager job. Ricks said with the experience Stockwell has, he stood above the three finalists.

Councilman Alex de la Cruz said while he didn't go on the trip this past weekend, he felt that from what he knows Stockwell is the most qualified of the finalists. de la Cruz said Stockwell seems to have what is needed to help the Council meet its goals and push the city forward.

Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar said she would have liked to have made her own contacts regarding the finalists, but said she was impressed with Stockwell.

Councilman Jim Restucci said experience is why he is going with Stockwell for the city manager position.

Prilucik said he completely supports the recommendation of the Council to go with Stockwell for the city manager position. Entering the process of hiring a new city manager, the mayor said it was his goal to have unanimous consensus among the Council as to who the city hired. Prilucik said he has a lot of confidence in the three councilmen who traveled to Colorado and Utah and in the report the trio provided to the rest of Council.

Following the Council meeting, Farmer said the weekend was eye-opening for him in regards to offering the city manager position to Stockwell.

"He is honest and forthright," said Farmer.

While in Utah and Colorado, the three councilmen didn't talk to any family or friends of the finalists, said Farmer. The trio did talk to just about everyone else, including a journalist in Stockwell's town, who spoke very highly of him.

"I think he will be the right fit," said Farmer.

In its job posting, the city council is offering a salary of between $80,000 and $90,000 plus benefits for the city manager position.


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