Who Wants to Manage Eau Claire? Not Enough People, Apparently – So City Pauses Search

City Council will restart candidate search in the fall

Tom Giffey |

Eau Claire City Hall.
Eau Claire City Hall.

The City of Eau Claire has pressed pause on its effort to fill the vacant city manager’s seat, citing a shortage of qualified candidates.

In a media release late Wednesday, Feb. 10, the city said the hunt for a new city manager would start again in the fall. The process originally began last February when then-City Manager Dale Peters announced his retirement. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold the following month, Peters delayed his departure until October, when he officially retired.

Three finalists for the position were named in December, and after further interviews the City Council offered one of them the job. However, the city announced early this month, that this preferred candidate – identified in media reports as Gerald Smith, city manager of Maquoketa, Iowa – decided to take a job elsewhere, leaving the process at square one. (The other two finalists, identified with the help of recruitment firm Baker Tilly, were Kathryn Schauf, Eau Claire County administrator, and Will Jones, city administrator in Mequon, Wisconsin.)

Wednesday’s media release noted that the City Council met in closed session Tuesday to discuss their next steps. “After considerable discussion, a consensus was reached by the Council to pause the search process and convene again in the fall of 2021 to discuss an appropriate time to re-start the search process,” the release stated. “When the time is right, and the current pandemic has hopefully subsided, the City would re-advertise the position and attempt to attract a wider slate of qualified candidates. Eau Claire is a great City and the Council’s intention is to attract qualified, experienced, and diverse applicants that share the values and goals of our community.”

The release went on to say that the City Council “wishes to express its deep gratitude to Engineering Director Dave Solberg who will continue to serve in the role of Interim City Manager during this extended period of time. The Council also wishes to express its appreciation for the highly capable City staff who have adjusted their work responsibilities during this time of transition to ensure that City of Eau Claire residents continue to receive the vital daily services they count on, while also planning and working toward our city’s bright future.”

Learn more about the city manager search process on the city website.