Ranking the City Manager Candidates By Who Is Vetting Them

Interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez in an undated file photo.
Interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez in an undated file photo.

They have winnowed the list down to three: interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez, Oakland city administrator Deanna Santana, and Wake County (North Carolina) manager David Cooke. They’ve all interviewed for the gig here, and now various city council members have been dispatched to find out more about the candidates in their hometowns. For Gonzalez, this amounts to, I don’t know, talking to the counter people at the Jimmy John’s in downtown where he gets a J.J. Gargantuan on Mondays and Wednesdays and always takes advantage of their free smells policy.

As for the other two: “Big Game” Dwaine Caraway has been dispatched to Oakland to check up on Santana, and Sheffie “K.Dot” Kadane and Tenell Atkins went to North Carolina to look into Cooke. This setup tells a little about where everyone stands. First, Cooke is definitely not going to be the next city manager. Kadane and Atkins have been on the council since 2007, so them going on the trip gives the illusion of some sort of seriousness. But I wouldn’t trust Kadane to make me a sandwich (I’d maybe trust Atkins, but only if it were something simple, one or two toppings max), so I’d say this is more of an exploratory trip to contrast and compare Carolina barbecue with the Texas version. Cooke, then, is a distant third. But, hey, bang up job so far, Dave.

Which brings us to Gonzalez vs. Santana. Sending Caraway — longtime council member, briefly the interim mayor (still kinda crazy that happened, right?) — to vet Santana means she’s the only real outside competitor for the job. In fact, she may be the strongest candidate. After the mayor, Caraway has the most authority, so picking him to do this says something. BUT, I think Caraway’s presence is meant to convince Santana to decide against taking the job. Before any job interview, you do your research. And when Santana investigates Caraway, she’ll see he gave a key to the city to Michael Vick, discover that crazy Arthur and Archie business, maybe learn the lyrics to Dooney Da Priest’s anti-sagging anthem “Pull Em Up,” and who knows what else. She’ll look through all that and think, “Man, this is the council I have to work with?” And then politely decline. So then they can give Gonzalez the job.