By Sarah Chacko
Killeen Daily Herald
It came as a surprise to many Killeen city employees Wednesday morning.
City Manager David Blackburns name was listed among 11 candidates for the Temple city manager position.
Killeen Mayor Pro Tem Tim Hancock said he was not aware of Blackburns interest but is not surprised Killeens city manager is being considered for the position.
I would think that he had probably been on many lists, Hancock said.
Hancock said in his five years with the council, Blackburn has meant a great deal to the citys progress.
With so much going on in the city, Hancock said he personally does not believe this is a good time to lose its city manager.
I dont believe we, as a city, are prepared for him to leave, Hancock said. Personally, I think its not a good time to change management.
Killeen Mayor Maureen Jouett said the situation underscores something she has brought to the councils attention many times regarding Blackburns contract and his ability to leave the city at any time.
We have no assurances in the contract to protect our interests, Jouett said. He could leave tomorrow, and it would be too bad for us.
Jouett said she sees Temple as a competitor and thinks, if offered, it would be unethical for Blackburn to accept the position.
Jouett said that while merely talking to Temple and actually accepting the job offer are two different things, she personally wouldnt have shown interest.
Blackburn was not available for comment Wednesday.
While the news was unexpected, the application isnt a first for Blackburn since coming to Killeen in 1993.
In 2002, Blackburn was one of six finalists for the city manager position in Abilene.
He landed on the short list for the position out of 52 applicants.
Temple Mayor Bill Jones III said there were around 40 initial applicants for the Temple city managers position.
Jones said the city put together a citizen task force along with senior staff representatives and collectively developed criteria for the city manager and a community profile.
He said the Dallas-based Mercer Group helped the city narrow the list to 11 after briefly interviewing the applicants and reviewing their qualifications.
On Friday, the citizen, staff and council groups will meet separately to go over the remaining resumes.
Jones said the city plans to narrow the pack to about half a dozen candidates and then set up interviews.
We certainly hope to make an offer in February, Jones said.
Other candidates are Martin E. Janczak, owner and operator of EarthStones in Temple; Alan Christensen, assistant city manager of Bakersfield, Calif.; Curtis H. Snow, former city manager of Palestine; Charles W. Daniels, assistant city manager of Dallas; Susan K. Thorpe, former city manager of Rowlett; Gary P. Shimum, assistant city manager of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Michael E. Morrison, assistant city manager of Abilene; Paul I. Davis, interim city administrator of League City; Ray Gosack, assistant city manager of Fort Smith, Ark.; and Lee R. Evett, former city manager of Pueblo, Colo.
Former Temple City Manager Mark Watson tendered his resignation at the beginning of October after more than five years with the city. Temple City Attorney Jonathan Graham has been serving as interim since then.
Jones said the city is looking for a manager with experience running a city and who understands the workings of local government.
Its very important they have an understanding of regionalism, Jones said.
Jones said the city managers salary will be based on experience but will most likely be in the same range as the past city manager, which was around $125,000 a year.
Jouett said the city managers current salary is around $135,000 a year plus benefits.
Blackburn was hired as Killeens city attorney in 1993, coming from Texarkana, where he had served as city attorney.
In 1995, he continued his work with the legal department and took the title of assistant city manager.
He left the legal department and became the deputy city manager in July 1997. He was the first person to hold that position in the city.
Blackburn assumed the position of Killeen city manager in March 1998.
Councilman Fred Latham said Blackburn was a very qualified city manager, and his recognition throughout the state and achievements within the city have only increased the strength of his resume.
Latham said the fact that he is being considered by other cities pays a compliment to both Blackburn and Killeen.
Hes one of the best city managers Killeen has had, Latham said. We certainly hope to keep him.
Councilman Dan Corbin said if Blackburn had to leave, he would rather him stay in the area.
I would enjoy that he was closer rather than farther away, Corbin said.
Corbin said the council is always prepared for the unexpected.
It wouldnt be a pleasant experience, but it never is, Corbin said of Blackburns possible departure. One things for sure, he wont be our city manager forever.
Contact Sarah Chacko at firstname.lastname@example.org