Not even one discouraging word was spoken Friday morning when the Billings City Council unanimously agreed that Greg Doyon is the best candidate for city administrator.
The council directed Acting City Administrator Bruce McCandless to start the process of negotiating a contract with Doyan, 48, who now is the Great Falls city manager.
The council acted with commendable speed and strong consensus in a 40-minute meeting Friday, following a marathon of interviews and informal discussions with four finalists on Thursday.
On Friday, the council first asked its department heads for their thoughts on the four finalists. McCandless spoke on behalf of that leadership team, saying that Doyon and Ron Alles of Helena were “top tier” candidates.
McCandless said “our collective view” is that Doyon “has the edge” because he has studied our community, asked probing questions, is engaged in his community and his professional organization. The department heads had informal discussions with each of the four finalists and also attended lunch and dinner with them. After spending about six hours with the candidates, the department leaders discussed their impressions.
“We believe both candidates are excellent,” McCandless said of Alles and Doyon.
Council members Mike Yakawich, Ryan Sullivan, Angela Cimmino and Chris Friedel put Doyon at the top of their hiring list. One by one, each of the nine council members present described their best candidate with Alles of Helena and Doyon mentioned most often. Councilmen Rich McFadden and Shaun Brown were excused absent. Brown participated in the Thursday interviews, McFadden did not.
Doyon is articulate, upwardly mobile and wants to be in Montana, Sullivan said. He has a great track record in multiple cities, budget experience and the confidence that will help the city communicate with voters, Sullivan said.
Councilwoman Angela Cimmino “highly supports” Doyon. She particularly liked his statement that “your budget is your greatest policy statement.”
Council members also were favorably impressed that Doyon had read the Billings City Charter and spoke knowledgeably about it during his interview.
The considerable amount of time and effort that city staff and council members put into the administrator search over the past few months was evident in the decision Friday. Council members had the information they needed to evaluate the finalists, agreed that they had excellent candidates and reached a consensus.
It was refreshing to see this important hiring decision made in public with constructive comments from everyone who spoke. There will be controversy and criticism ahead as the council and the new administrator address city issues. The positive start and unanimous council support bode well for Doyon and our community.
Each of the council members owns this decision – whether present to vote or not. Each is responsible for working hard to help Doyon be successful because his success will be Billings’ success. Three new council members taking office next month did not have a vote Friday, but they also have responsibility to help Doyon get a good start on being the city’s chief operating officer. Remember: The council hires the city administrator, who hires and supervises all other employees.
There must be openness and trust for the administrator and the elected council to do their jobs well. When there is conflict it must be resolved amicably.
In a brief meeting Thursday, Doyon told The Gazette he wants to stay in Montana and is “ready to tackle new challenges” in this larger city with its diverse economy. We hope to welcome Doyon and his family to our town soon.