Two Evanston City Council members say they want to try a different search firm for the next round of Evanston’s effort to find a new city manager.

The city has frequently used Northbrook-based GovHR USA, a firm that includes several former Evanston department heads on its staff, for top-level searches in the past.

That firm was used for the search that brought former city manager Wally Bobkiewicz to Evanston and for the search that led to the promotion of Erika Storlie into the role as Bobkiewicz’s replacement

But after several council members became unhappy with Storlie, leading to her resignation under pressure last year, GovHR’s association with former Evanston staffers seemed to be toxic for most alders, and they opted to go with a California firm, CPS HR Consulting, to try to find Storlie’s replacement.

That search blew up last week when the only finalist who apparently had support of the super-majority required for the selection bailed out to take a job in Houston.

Update 2/3/22: Suffredin said Monday that Daniel Ramos was the candidate who “could have gotten seven votes.” The city issued a press release on Jan. 25 saying “the City Council was enthusiastic about” Ramos.

However, Ald. Bobby Burns (5th), in an email message to Evanston Now late Wednesday, said Ramos “did not have a super-majority of support from the council when he accepted the job in Houston.”

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) told residents at an online ward meeting Tuesday night that CPS HR “failed to live up to our expectations.”

“So,” Nieuwsma said, “We’ll be looking for another firm to have a better fit with what the city needs.”

Several other search firms specialize in filling top-level government jobs — the website lists 13 of them.

But Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) told residents at a Monday night virtual meeting hosted by the Central Street Neighbors Association that he hopes the new search firm is not one that specializes in government positions.

He said a more generalist search firm “will get us a stronger field of candidates.”

Suffredin said the city has spent about $25,000 on consultants for each of the two most recent city manager searches, and he expects the new search firm may cost at least a few thousand more than that.

While the City Council and mayor try to find a prospective new manager at least seven of them can agree on, the city continues to hemorrhage staffers in management-level positions who are leaving for jobs elsewhere.

That means a new manager — whoever he or she ends up being — will have a host of jobs to fill upon moving into the manager’s office on the fourth floor of the Civic Center.

The Council has scheduled a special executive session meeting for 6 p.m. Monday at which they may try to agree on the consulting firm to conduct the next round of the city manager search.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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