3 Arizona finalists named for interim Paradise Valley town manager

Paradise Valley Independent logo

 · by Melissa Fittro

Paradise Valley’s elected officials will be considering three individuals to fill the position of interim town manager while a national search ensues.

A July 11 Paradise Valley Town Council executive session and special meeting culminated in three municipal professionals — Ken Buchanan, Cynthia Seelhammer and Brian Dalke — being named as finalists to be interviewed for a temporary position.

Town Manager Kevin Burke submitted his resignation on June 12 whereas he is reportedly taking a position with the city of Peoria, as that entity’s future public works director. His last day with the town will be Aug. 11.

“The idea was to make sure we had a decision and plan for moving forward prior to Kevin’s departure,” Mayor Michael Collins said at the July 11 special meeting. “Council has decided to look for an interim town manager.”

The plan is to employ someone while a national search for a permanent town manager is conducted, spearheaded by now-Vice Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner. Mr. Bien-Willner is running unopposed for the mayor’s seat this August.

A Fountain Hills-based firm, Interim Public Management, has been tapped to provide qualified candidates, Mr. Collins noted.

“I am happy to announce that IPM provided us with quality candidates,” he said.

“As a result of the executive session we have three finalists that we will be interviewing for the role of interim town manager. This was not advertised as a stepping stone for someone to come in and serve as interim and make their way to town manager.”

Mr. Buchanan has served as city manager for four Arizona cities including the Town of Fountain Hills. Most recently he is employed through IPM as interim city manager for the city of Page, with a population of 7,600.

He has a bachelor’s of science in community recreation degree and masters of public administration degree from Arizona State University.

Mr. Buchanan has served on various Arizona boards, and served as Arizona City/County Management Association board member and president. He also received the association’s John J. Debolske Professional Excellence Award in 2012.

Ms. Seelhammer served as longtime town manager for Queen Creek, from January 1994 to June 2006, being the first full-time manager for the newly incorporated community. Under Ms. Seelhammer the town staff grew from two full-time employees to 180 in the first 12 years, her resume states.

Ms. Seelhammer went on to serve as deputy city manager for the city of Phoenix.

She has a masters of public administration degree from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, and a bachelor of arts degree from Saint Cloud State University in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.

In 1998 she completed Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for senior executives in state and local governments; and prior graduated from Valley Leadership Class VIII in 1986.

The third finalist, Mr. Dalke, worked for the city of Goodyear for more than 20 years, holding the position of town manager for nearly five years. He also was economic development director and deputy city manager.

His background in economic development makes him familiar with large scale development, Mr. Collins noted.

He graduated from Ottawa University with a degree in business administration, and from Amberton University in Garland, Texas with an MBA. Mr. Dalke has been a member of the Arizona Association for Economic Development since 1990, among a handful of other activities.

Paradise Valley Town Council expects to have another executive session and special meeting in the first week of August to potentially make a selection.

“As far as the full-time town manager we have a recruiting process in place which I will be spear-heading on behalf of the council, with council’s input all along the way of course,” Mr. Bien-Willner said at the meeting.

Paradise Valley has an existing contract with Sacramento-based CPS HR Consulting, Mr. Bien-Willner says, noting that the firm assisted with the last town manager recruitment process in 2014 that ultimately selected Mr. Burke, and the hiring of Police Chief Peter Wingert.

“Using that existing contract we executed a second statement of work, which is not to exceed $24,500 total including total fees and expenses,” he said.

“We’ll be working as a team to get that moving forward quickly. I’m looking forward to getting a great candidate pool near and far to position ourselves to select the best person to fill that role.”

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro