Your City Manager Semifinalists (Updated)

Almost three and a half hours after convening, City Council has returned from their closed-door discussions with a list of eight city manager semifinalists.

The "internal" candidates are no surprise: Austin Energy General Manager Juan Garza and assistant city managers Rudy Garza and Laura Huffman. Five external candidates – arguably slightly more than expected – were named. We'll update briefly with their names and details as available.

Drum roll please: Your five external candidates are Michael Brown, Wayne Cauthen, Rick Cole, JeLynne Burley, and Marc Ott. (Making the motion naming the semifinalists, Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley neglected to read the last candidate's name before correcting herself, amending her motion to include "What's his name? Marc Ott."

UPDATE: Click 'continue reading' below for the city press release containing bios for all the candidates and more. Here's the thumbnail sketches:

Michael Brown is City Manager for Savannah, Ga.; Jelynne Burle is currently a San Antonio Deputy City Manager; Wayne Cauthen is the City Manager for Kansas City, Mo; Rick Cole is the City Manager for Ventura, Calif.; and Marc Ott is Assistant City Manager for Ft. Worth. Juan, Rudy, and Laura we profiled here.

UPDATE DEUCE: The Statesman is now reporting that Juan Garza's accepted the job at Pedernales Electric, whittling the candidates to seven.

Mayor and City Council Select Semi-Finalists for City Manager

AUSTIN, Texas (January 03, 2008) - Mayor Will Wynn announced today that he and City Council are entering into the interview phase of the national search for Austin's next City Manager. Candidate information was presented to the Mayor and City Council by Arcus Public, the search firm hired by the city, in the form of a binder presentation January 3rd, which outlined each individual's qualifications, experience in like cities with similar trends, reasons for seeking the City Manager position, and strategies for managing growth.

"We were very impressed with the scale and scope of Arcus' work and the candidates they formally presented to us," said Mayor Wynn. "They took their time at the forefront, getting to know Austin, our constituents and our city's unique needs. Their national reach combined with a thorough understanding of the type of candidate we want has resulted in a fair and comprehensive search process so far and will ultimately land Austin a top-notch candidate. Our next steps include face-to-face interviews with the semi-finalists on January 8th and 9th where we will further narrow the list of candidates. On January 16th we will hold final one-on-one interviews with, and presentations by the finalists. At our January 17th City Council Meeting we are hoping to authorize Arcus to negotiate with the finalists."

"Each of the candidates that we presented fit the profile of the ideal candidate that was determined last fall through our meetings with more than 50 stakeholders with an interest in the Austin community," said R. Douglas Firestone, President and CEO of Arcus. "We heard the traits that the city is looking for in the next City Manager and are confident that each of these candidates would serve Austin well and bring a unique blend of experience that will be beneficial to the city as it continues to grow."

Provided below is an overview of the 8 candidates in alphabetical order that are currently being considered for the City Manager position.

Michael Brown

Mr. Brown is currently the City Manager for Savannah, Ga. He has served in this position since 1995. Before serving as the City Manager of Savannah, Mr. Brown has held the following positions: City Manager in consolidated City/County government of Columbus Ga., Assistant City Manager for the City of Savannah, Ga., Town Manager for Stratford, Conn., and City Manager of Mount Pleasant, Tenn. Mr. Brown has earned his Master of Arts degree in Public Administration and a B.A. in Government with High Distinction from the University of Virginia.

Jelynne Burley

Ms. Burley is currently a San Antonio, Texas Deputy City Manager. Burley began her career in Public Administration as a Project Management Specialist in San Antonio in 1984. She has since moved up the ranks to a variety of different roles including: Budget/Management Analyst, Special Projects Manager, Director of Facilities Planning and Construction, and an Assistant City Manager. Ms. Burley has a Master's degree in Urban Studies from Trinity University and her Bachelor's degree from Southern University.

Wayne Cauthen

Mr. Cauthen is currently the City Manager for Kansas City, Mo. Before serving in this role, Mr. Cauthen has served in a variety of positions for combined City/County government of Denver, Colo. These roles include: Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Interim Finance Director, Interim Director for the Mayor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and as the Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Contract Compliance. Mr. Cauthen has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Rick Cole

Mr. Cole is currently the City Manager of the City of Ventura, Calif. Prior to Ventura, Mr. Cole has served as the City Manager of Azusa, Calif., Director of the Local Government Commission of Southern California, and also as the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Councilmember of the City of Pasadena, Calif. Mr. Cole has earned his M.S. from Columbia University School of Journalism, and an A.B. from Occidental College in American Studies.

Juan Garza

Mr. Garza is currently the General Manager for Austin Energy. Previously, he has served in the following positions in City Government: Director of Human Resources and Civil Services for the City of Austin, Texas, City Manager of Corpus Christi, Texas, Assistant City Manager of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Director/ Deputy Director of Finance for the City of Corpus Christi, Texas. Mr. Garza has a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Loyola University of Chicago, Ill.

Rudy Garza

Rudy Garza is currently an Assistant City Manager for the City of Austin, Texas. Prior to being an Assistant City Manager, Mr. Garza served the City of Austin as the Budget Officer. Mr. Garza has also been the Acting and Assistant Budget Director and Accounting Supervisor for Corpus Christi, Texas. He has also worked for the State of Texas, as the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Mr. Garza has a B.B.A in Accounting from St. Mary's University of San Antonio, Texas.

Laura Huffman

Ms. Huffman is currently an Assistant City Manager for the City of Austin, Texas. She has also worked as a Deputy City Manager for San Marcos, Texas, and as an Executive Assistant and Auditor for the City of Austin, Texas prior to her current position. Ms. Huffman has earned a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.Sc. in Political Science with a minor in History from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

Marc Ott

Marc Ott is currently an Assistant City Manager for the City of Ft. Worth, Texas. In past roles, he has served the following positions: City Administrator for Rochester Hills, Mich., City Manager for Kalamazoo, Mich, Deputy City Manager for Kalamazoo, Mich., Assistant City Manager for Kalamazoo, Mich., and as Administrative Services Officer for Grand Rapids, Mich. Mr. Ott has earned a M.P.A. in Public Administration and a B.S. in Management with a Concentration in Economics, both from Oakland University in Michigan.

About Arcus Public

Arcus Public is a division of Arcus, LLC. The public sector division provides retained and interim executive searches, staff augmentation and management consulting solutions for local governments, higher education and non-profit associations and has placed executives in numerous public agencies across the country. The firm has a growing national reputation for placing the nation's best and brightest executives in public sector positions in city, state, county and government organizations as well as authorities, higher education and non-profits. The company employs more than 175 people and has annual revenue in excess of $18 million. The firm's corporate headquarters is located in Harrisburg, Pa., with offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. For more information about Arcus, please visit

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