The City of Las Cruces has released applications submitted by two additional candidates for its open city manager position. City councilors will interview both candidates on Wednesday.
The applicants are Dan Biles, deputy county manager of infrastructure for Jefferson County, Ala., and Stuart Ed, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of El Paso, who has prior municipal government experience.
You can see both candidates’ applications here.
City councilors are scheduled to interview the candidates in closed session beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday. A public meet-and-greet with the candidates is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday in the lobby of City Hall, 700 North Main Street.
The Biles and Ed interviews are the latest moves in a city manager search that has been characterized in part by a battle over whose applications should be available to the public. The city has admitted that state law requires the release of all applications in its possession. In addition to releasing Biles’ and Ed’s applications, the city previously released 11 other applications given to the city by its contract search firm, The Mercer Group.
The city contends that dozens of other applications for its city manager job received by The Mercer Group but not turned over to the city for consideration aren’t public records. NMPolitics.net has sued, seeking release of all city manager applications. The case is pending.
If the city had run its own search, all manager applications would be public record, even if they were deemed to not meet the minimum qualifications for the job. The Las Cruces Public Schools recently released all applications for its open superintendent job.
Mayor Ken Miyagishima was quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News as saying the requirement that city manager applications be publicly released resulted in one candidate not being invited for an interview this week.
“Initially, it was my understanding we were going to bring in five candidates in this next group,” Miyagishima was quoted as saying. “But one of those withdrew because he got another job, another backed out because he didn’t want to have to take his kids out of school, and a third didn’t get back to us about the requirement of making their name public.”
Whether the city has received any additional applications, other than those submitted by Biles and Ed, isn’t clear. NMPolitics.net filed a new records request on Aug. 18 for any city manager applications received by the city or The Mercer Group since the city last released 11 applications on May 13.
On Aug. 23 the city requested additional time to respond. Last Friday, the city again requested additional time, stating in an email sent just after 4 p.m. that it would respond by this Friday, Sept. 9.
Almost two hours later, at 5:59 p.m. on a Friday that started the Labor Day holiday weekend, the city released Biles’ and Ed’s résumés to the news media. And on Tuesday, the city notified NMPolitics.net that it had no additional applications to release in response to the pending records request and was therefore closing out the request.
This article has been updated to include the city’s closing of NMPolitics.net’s records request on Tuesday.