March 16 at the City Council: Elections Update, Sustainability & Energy Efficiency, Plus a City Manager Search Update

The Monday, March 16 city council meeting opens with a 7 pm report by the Board of Elections on 2014 activities and plans for 2015 leading up to this year’s city election. The board’s report is online. It recommends a number of general steps to improve electoral awareness and others to increase voter registration and expand access to voting. I’ll be looking for board reaction to a few ideas myself — for instance, what if we required petitions to get on the ballot, which would force would-be candidates to get out into the community, replacing the nominating caucus, which requires only two nominators? — and I’d be happy to forward your questions and suggestions to the board.

Environmental Sustainability Update

Also on the agenda, a Sustainability Program update from Sustainability Manager Gina Mathias and discussion of an energy efficiency incentive program.

The city’s environmental sustainability initiatives center on efforts to win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize — the city is one of 50 finalists — and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gina will outline a neighborhood-based energy-challenge competition the relies on individual green home certifications aided by incentives and development of a set of preferred contractors. The city government will take its own steps. See the backgrounder (linked above) for information and a break-out of the $258,475 program budget.

Your comments are welcome; you’re participation is essential for the environment progress we aspire to.

City Manager Search

Finally, an update on the search for a replacement for Brian Kenner, who resigned as city manager effective January 30:

The council decided to conduct an expedited search this go-around. [Added March 16:] “Expedited” means that we reused the 2012-3 materials (position description, brochure) with only a basic update and not a rewrite. The council agreed to close the search after only 30 days and to screen the candidates ourselves, in order to come up with a short list, rather than use the search consultant. And it means not setting up a residents’ committee; instead we’ll involve residents only if there’s a close split in the hiring decision. We may also involve residents informally during interviews, as tour guides.

We do welcome public input. You can relay your views to the city council by e-mail — I’ll paste in e-mail below — or by commenting at the council meeting, at 7:30 pm.

Best to comment soon. We haven’t made a selection, but I expect we’ll have an announcement within 3-4 weeks.

Our last city manager search was very recent, only two years ago. (We were all surprised that Brian left so soon, but agree that appointment as Washington DC deputy mayor was a great opportunity.) The key quality sought then — and now, I believe — was/is desire for a city manager who will be engaged and visible in the community. That’s on top of management experience and competence, of course.

Here are council e-mail addresses:

Bruce Williams <>
Fred Schultz <>
Jarrett Smith <>
Kate Stewart <>
Seth Grimes <>
Terry Seamens <>
Tim Male <>

Please share your thoughts!

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