Ald. Jonathan Niuesma at the 4th Ward meeting at the Robert Crown Center.

Evanston’s on-again, off-again, on-again search for a city manager is on, and Ald. Jonathan Nieusma (4th) says city council will be inviting three semi-finalists for a second round of internal interviews.

Nieusma told a ward meeting Tuesday night that “the situation is pretty critical that we need to fill the position ASAP.”

Within the past year, Evanston has seen a city manager forced out, a top contender go elsewhere, another finalist back out after being approved, and the present interim manager tell council she’s leaving for another position.

Nieusma said, “We as a council decided to forge ahead with the search,” with a recruitment firm identifying “another crop of candidates” which has now been winnowed down to three.

Because of the need to find a manager soon, Nieusma said, if there’s “one clear choice” on Council, it’s at least an option that the single candidate will be presented to the community to answer questions, rather than having more than one finalist do that.

As long as there is then “public buy-in,” the single finalist could be offered the job.

Niuesma said he’s “feeling optimistic” that a quality candidate will be found and hired.

However, with Interim Manager Kelly Gandurski taking a job with a law firm next week, the city will still need another interim manager until the permanent manager is chosen.

Nieusma said there is an internal candidate in mind, but could not comment on any names.

He also said that the new interim manager will likely select the next police chief, rather than waiting for the permanent city manager to be brought on board.

“If we’ve learned anything from our last two attempts to hire a city manager,” Nieusma said, “is that we don’t want to wait if we have the right person.”

Evanston is now on its second interim police chief in the past year or so.

Nieusma said that he “feels like we have stemmed the exodus” of officers from the force, which is now significantly below sworn strength.

It will be up to the new chief, he said, to work on building the numbers back up.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  1. As a resident of the Fourth Ward, I feel lucky to have Jonathan Niuesma as our alderman. We have a number of real problems in our ward that Mr. Niuesma has had to take on, in spite of his hopes to do good things for the environment rather than sort out Albany House and related (as well as other) challenges. Now with our town having increased crime, a decreased police force, and difficulty hiring new leadership, Jonathan seems to be direct in his communications and still optimistic in spite of so many roadblocks to Evanston’s progress. As I read about the many petty and ridiculous suggestions, arguments, and antics of other elected officials, it is helpful to have at least one sane and stable person at the table.

  2. This would be a very bad move if we follow the District 65 model of hiring someone without bringing in a slate of candidates for public scrutiny.

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