Fort Worth set to interview city manager candidates

Tom Higgins, Fort Worth City Manager 


Scott Nishimura

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and City Council members will start interviewing candidates for city manager Wednesday and Thursday in closed-door sessions with a consultant.

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The council called special meetings next Wednesday and Thursday afternoons at City Hall, where they’ll convene in open session, then immediately go into executive session to interview candidates.

The council is expected to call more special meetings the week of Feb. 10 to interview candidates, Jason Lamers, chief of staff to the mayor and council, said Friday.

“All that will be heavily locked-down, as a courtesy to the candidates,” Lamers said. “It’ll be the mayor and council in those meetings. There’s no staff in those meetings.”

The city’s hired consultant, the Fort Worth-based Whitney Smith Co., is seriously considering about 12 candidates for the job being vacated by Tom Higgins, who is retiring. He has been city manager since 2011 after working with the city since 1987, beginning his career with the city as economic development director. Higgins is being paid a salary of $233,393. Higgins, who announced his retirement in October, will stay on until a new city manager is named.

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The council expects to publicly announce a list of finalists at the end of February, and perhaps make an offer and announcement of a hire in early March, he said.

Price said in an interview Whitney Smith had “30-plus” applicants.

“They worked that down to a manageable number for us to look at,” she said.

Price declined to say whether any internal candidates are in the running. “I don’t want to discuss who they are at this point,” Price said. “At this point, it’s still a fairly fluid process.”

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She said the city is looking for a candidate who can function in a tight budgetary environment and sort priorities, has experience in a high-growth city with “serious revitalization,” is innovative and a strong motivator, and places a high priority on customer service.

“We’re looking for Superman or Superwoman,” she said.