By SCOTT BOWLEN
Daily News Staff Writer
The City of Ketchikan’s recruitment process for a new city manager/Ketchikan Public Utilities general manager neared a conclusion Saturday evening when the Ketchikan City Council voted 6-1 to select Delilah Walsh from a slate of four finalists for the position.
The successful motion to select Walsh, who currently serves as the utilities director for the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico, also directed the city’s recruitment consultant to start negotiations with Walsh for employment “terms and conditions acceptable to the council.”
The council vote came at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday during a special council meeting that had been gaveled at 10 a.m. for the city mayor and council to interview Walsh and the three other finalists for the position that has been vacant since the September 2021 retirement of the former city/KPU manager, Karl Amylon.
The other finalists were Paul Dyal, the interim city manager/executive director of utilities at Lake City, Florida; Scott Thomas, the town administrator of La Conner, Washington; and William Appleton, the public works director for the City of SeaTac in Washington.
Each candidate was interviewed by the mayor and council during the special meeting, with each interview scheduled for up to 75 minutes. After the last candidate interview was completed at about 4:05 p.m, the council went into executive session to review the candidates and potentially make a selection.
After the executive session ended at about 7:45 p.m., Mayor Dave Kiffer gaveled the meeting back in to regular session.
“We met with our consultant (Lynn Barboza of Strategic Government Resources Inc.) and we discussed the four candidates — a very, very lengthy, lively discussion,” Kiffer said, and then asked whether there was a motion from the council
Council Member Mark Flora made the motion to select Walsh and to direct Barboza to enter into negotiations with Walsh.
Flora and City Council members Abby Bradberry, Janalee Gage, Lallette Kistler, Jai Mahtani and Judy Zenge voted yes. Council Member Riley Gass voted no.
Walsh and the other finalists were not present in the City Council chambers during the vote. Each had been present only during the time of their individual interviews.
During the council and mayor comment period that followed the vote, Mahtani said that “I think this was a marathon.
“I think we read the candidates well, worked with the recruitment agency as well,” he continued. “I think, thanks to the management team here that prepared us for this, I think we've come to a conclusion that we are hiring a manager that will come up with a strategic plan and have the vision of the community and of the council moving forward.”
Other council members voiced appreciation for city staff and Barboza for their work during the recruitment process, and remarked on the quality of the four finalists.
“It was clear that they were all deserving of the position and that they had done their homework,” Kistler said. “... It was a difficult decision, but, I think we did the right thing.”
Gass said that he was “really impressed with the group of candidates. Definitely the final four, I think they were all great applicants and (I) really appreciate everybody putting in their time to apply. And I think the applicant that was chosen is gonna do a great job and I look forward to working with her.”
Kiffer concluded the comment period by saying he wasn’t sure what the applicant pool was going to look like when the recruitment process started.
“Because really, you know, the market, there's a whole lot of issues. A lot of competition, I was afraid we were gonna be sorting through a lot of people who, you know, I couldn't imagine being manager of the City of Ketchikan,” Kiffer said. “We ended up with four people, any one of those four could be next manager, and I think we'd be just fine. I am very excited about the choice that the council has made and I look forward to working with Ms. Walsh.”
Walsh has served as the utilities director of the City of Las Cruces since October 2020, according to her resume. Prior to that, Walsh served as assistant utilities director/interim director for the City of Las Cruces from July 2019 to October 2020; county manager of the County of Socorro, New Mexico, from 2009 through July 2020, and as vice president of First State Bank in Socorro, New Mexico from 1999 to 2008.