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The previous consulting firm hired by the city to carry out the search for a new City Manager “failed to live up to our [the City Council’s] expectations,” said Council member Jonathan Nieuwsma at a Fourth Ward meeting on Feb. 1. 

The firm, California-based CPS HR Consulting, led the search that brought forward Daniel Ramos, who was the city’s leading candidate until he accepted another job and withdrew his consideration, restarting the search for City Manager.

Under the current contract, the city could ask CPS HR to restart the City Manager search, but Council members agree that a different firm should lead the search, said Nieuwsma.

“I was disappointed in the level of support and quality of advice and guidance we received from the previous search firm,” said Nieuwsma in a separate memo to the RoundTable. 

The city chose this firm due to their approach to public engagement, but the Mayor and City Council ended up doing most of the work, he explained.

The city will not receive a refund from CPS HR and will pay extra to hire a new firm, Nieuwsma said at the meeting. 

“We want a better partner in this process for round two,” said Nieuwsma. He hopes that the next search will bring forward a candidate even better suited for the role than Ramos, he added.

Resident Doreen Price spoke up at the meeting, expressing a need for even more public engagement in the next search. More engagement and a better firm will increase the chance of finding the best City Manager for the city, she said. 

Despite a lack of support from CPS HR, Nieuwsma said he was happy with the level of public engagement that drove the last search. The city received a lot of citizen input, and there were multiple opportunities for community members to engage with the process, including the Town Hall that was recorded and made easily available to any resident unable to attend, he said.

The level of public engagement in the last City Manager search is not “the norm,” said Nieuwsma. “We are going above and beyond the level of engagement that happens in most communities.”

Nieuwsma concluded the discussion about the City Manager search by thanking all community members who participated in the citizen’s panel in the last search.

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...

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  1. As an editorial on the state of the council’s and council people’s credibility, I doubt everything that alderperson Nieuwsma says. I suspect that the original search firm is significantly more credible and professional than the council. This seems like a good story to dig for clear facts.