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RVTD board extends general manager search

A decision to hire a new general manager at Rogue Valley Transportation District was tabled this week after board members clashed over the vetting process.

Let's not rush to a decision, said member Dan Moore. We need more background checks and more reference checks.

Moore and other RVTD members met with four candidates Saturday, narrowing their search down to Tom Quigley of San Francisco.

Two other candidates ' Peter Jacobson of Texas and John Diers of Wisconsin ' were also strong contenders. A fourth candidate, Kathleen Meier of Iowa, is reportedly no longer in contention after the interviews.

— The position, managing a district with a &

36;13 million annual budget, pays &

36;57,500-&

36;67,500 annually.

The board last year dismissed former general manager Sherrin Coleman, spawning public outcry and two unsuccessful recall efforts. Moore said the board needs to make sure it selects the right candidate to help heal wounds with the public.

I am baffled that some board members didn't want staff involved, said Moore. (Board chair) Eva (Avery) was strongly against having staff meet candidates.

Avery said the majority of the board appeared to be in agreement that Tom Quigley was the best candidate.

Last Saturday we decided we didn't need a second interview, she said. Suddenly, he (Moore) has more questions. I don't see that we're trying to rush this through. We've been at this since January.

The board went through 14 applications, selecting the four finalists, each of whom has extensive experience in transportation, said Avery.

However, she has agreed to conduct more background checks on the applicants as well as hold a teleconference interview in the week of June 9.

She disagreed that RVTD employees need to be involved in the hiring process.

It is their (the board's) responsibility to hire the general manager, said Avery. It's not up to the staff.

Board member-elect Connie Skillman, who agreed that Quigley was the best candidate so far, said the district needs to be thorough in its recruiting process and conduct as many interviews as are necessary to make the public comfortable with the decision.

Whatever it costs to do this is what we need to spend, she said. If we've got candidates from out of the state, we need to bite the bullet.

Skillman, who was invited to the candidate interviews, said she was surprised to find there was no intention to pursue a second interview in what is the most key position at RVTD.

Any further interviews, she thinks, should be done in person.

I hope it is not a teleconferencing interview, she said. It is far too important for that.

Skillman doesn't think the board should delay its decision on a new general manager until after she takes office on July 1.

Board member Carol Bennett doesn't understand why there is such a dispute over this issue since everybody at the meeting agreed that Quigley is the best candidate, with the exception of Ed Chapman.

The cost to bring candidates back would be an unnecessary expense, she said, particularly for a district that gets criticized for its financial decisions.

She disputes the idea of having staff involved in the interviews. I don't have any problem with them (candidates) talking to the staff, but I don't think we should give them a sheet and let them evaluate them.

Despite her reservations, Bennett said she is willing to be flexible in the vetting process.

We're trying to get it right and we're going to do it right, she said.

Call Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail