Garner council members will soon begin the process of seeking a permanent replacement for departing manager Hardin Watkins. Among the first decisions they should make it to open the process up the public at some point.
Many area government agencies make public the name of the finalists for a top job and that seems a reasonable place to tell taxpayers who is strongly being considered for the town’s chief bureaucratic position.
Too often we hear elected types explain their decisions not to make candidates’ names public by saying they did not indicate that such a thing might happen during the interview process. Some candidates, they say, might not want their current employers to know they are job seeking.
We would argue that if a candidate worthy of the Garner job is working in another town, he or she is good enough that the board or council they serve ought to know they will be a candidate for a bigger, better job at some point.
We would also make the point that open searches often yield clearer, more complete pictures of candidates before a final decision is made because the public has the opportunity to vette candidates regarding issues that are important to them. And, after all, the consent of the governed often proves pivotal when elected leaders want voters to make certain decisions come election time.
Openness, in all matters, is critically important to the reputation of a governing body. No decision a town council is likely to make will be more important than the hiring of the person they expect to manage the town’s day-to-day affairs.
We’d love to hear council members say they intend to open the process to the public before a final decision is made.