TACOMA, WASH.–The four finalists for the city manager’s job in Tacoma, Wash., that includes Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, dropped  to three Friday afternoon as one of the candidates withdrew from the race.

City of Tacoma officials offered no reason for the withdrawal by Belinda Graham, a special project employee of the City of Port Townsend, but it left the field with only two competitors to Bobkiewicz—Kristoff Bauer, deputy city manager for the City of Fayetteville, N.C., and Robert Cowell, Jr., deputy city manager for the City of Amarillo, Tex.

As the only finalist currently serving a major city as its top official, one would think that Bobkiewicz would have a significant advantage, except that Tacoma had hired a lesser official the last time around when it hired T. C. Broadnax in 2011, who performed in the job well enough to be attracted by Dallas, Tex., to be its top city official three months ago.

When hired by Tacoma, Broadnax was one of four assistant city managers in San Antonio, Tex.

Bobkiewicz chats with a resident after the forum.

The three finalists to replace Broadnax appeared late Friday afternoon at a forum, televised on local cable television, where they gave mostly stock answers to routine questions, followed by a reception for about 35 local residents.

Now the time has arrived for the council to pick a winner, which it is expected to do at a special meeting at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday.

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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