During a special meeting Wednesday, May 2, the Sallisaw City Commissioners voted to open applications for the city manager position by advertising locally and on the city’s website, and not hire an outside firm to do the job.
In his first council meeting presiding as mayor, Ernie Martens began discussion about opening up the selection process nationally, hiring within or something in between.
Ward 1 Commissioner Ronnie Lowe said Acting City Manager Keith Skelton has been doing an excellent job.
“Keith could be moved to that position,” Lowe said. “I think we should look at Keith.”
Ward 2 Commissioner Philip Gay said he felt like the application process should be opened up to see what kind of qualified candidates apply. Ward 4 Commissioner Shannon Vann said that could include Skelton, noting that Skelton has been filling in for the position, and has the qualifications.
Martens said he didn’t want the meeting to turn into a discussion of Skelton and his abilities.
“That’s not what we need to do today,” Martens said.
After further discussion, the commissioners decided as a group not to hire an outside firm to recruit a city manager, opting instead to search, interview and hire as a board.
City Attorney John Robert Montgomery advised that the commission is not bound by any type of labor law to open the search nationwide.
After a motion by Gay to hold the application process open for two weeks failed to receive a second, Lowe made a motion that the board solicit applications with local advertising and website notices about the available position through close of day May 18. Ward 3 Commissioner Julian Mendiola seconded the motion, and it passed by a vote of 5-0.
Vann said a copy of the two previous city manager employment contracts should be reviewed to possibly create a new one. Skelton said he has been working to modernize the contract.
“It’s my recommendation that you modernize that contract,” Skelton said, adding that Montgomery would have to tie it back to the city charter as well, “and tie it to the … code of ethics. It gets down to some gritty stuff, but it holds the manager accountable, speaking from an employee standpoint.”
Skelton, who was the assistant city manager, was appointed acting city manager after former City Manager Clayton Lucas II resigned Dec. 11, after the board voted three to two to fire him at a previous meeting.
Pam Cloud, Managing News Director
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