The Killeen City Council nailed down a date to begin interviewing municipal judge candidates and selected a panel to conduct interviews.
Ann Farris, assistant city manager for internal services, said the city received 31 applications for the position, but only 24 meet the minimum qualifications set by the council.
City staff will narrow the pool to eight candidates who will be interviewed by the panel beginning Jan. 6.
Councilmen Jonathan Okray, Wayne Gilmore and Steve Harris, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone, Mayor Dan Corbin, presiding municipal Judge William Gibson, City Attorney Kathy Davis and City Manager Glenn Morrison will serve on the panel along with Roshanda Smiley, the city’s director of human resources.
According to the city charter, the council holds the authority to hire the judge.
Councilman Jose Segarra said he would like to see people with more knowledge of the position conduct interviews.
“I think the only one that has experience (on the council) is our mayor. ... We don’t have that legal connection,” he said. “I would like to see people who have experience interview these highly qualified people, not just the council.”
Following the first round of interviews, the top three candidates will be asked back for a second interview, in which all council members will be present.
Farris also presented the council with a list of potential questions to ask during the interviews, and asked that council members rank them in terms of priority.
“Everything needs to be consistent and confidential,” she said. “Once each candidate leaves (the interview), they need to have been asked the same questions.”
Corbin said he believes the plan the council presented to city staff in its search to fill the bench “is a good one.”
“I’m comfortable with it,” he said.
The quest to hire a new presiding municipal judge came following Gibson’s announcement that he will retire in January when his tenure expires.
Gibson began serving as interim judge in June 2009 when Barbara Weaver retired.
He was appointed to the position by the council in December 2009.