ALPENA - The four candidates vying for Alpena's city manager position will be interviewed on Saturday during a special meeting, but Alpena Municipal Council and the public will have an opportunity to be introduced to them the night before.
Mayor Matt Waligora has called a special meeting to be held at the APlex, where the council, city staff and community leaders can say hello and, more importantly, get to know the applicants a little better.
Waligora said the event at the APlex isn't really a meeting, but because the entire council is expected to attend it was important to post it as such. He said the meeting is going to be more like a social gathering where the candidates can mingle and not have to worry about being asked a lot of questions. He said that is reserved for Saturday's meeting.
"We have to call it a special meeting for the sake of legalities and complying with the Open Meetings Act. We are all going to be there, so we had to post it as such," Waligora said. "What it really is, is a meet and greet with the candidates, the council, the department heads and hopefully community leaders and members of the public. It will also give us a glimpse on how the candidates see see them in a social setting and not just the formal interview. I will probably introduce each of them, but there won't be any speeches or questions."
Councilman Sam Eiler said because the council only will have a limited time with each on Saturday the extra time Friday could be beneficial when it is time to narrow the field of applicants down.
"I think this is a good idea and I hope we will get to spend equal time with each one of them," Eiler said. "I think maybe we will be able to get some the thoughts from the community leaders who may be there and who knows, we may be able to lean as much about them in a social setting as we do in the interview when we only have 45 or 50 minutes with each."
Councilwoman Susan Nielsen said she hopes residents take advantage of the open meeting and is glad the event will be open to the public and not just those involved with local government. She said she hopes the people who attend take the time to say hello to the candidates, but doesn't want them to become flooded with questions before Saturday.
"I think it is important for people to attend any meeting we have and this is a great opportunity for the applicants to get a chance to get to know the fine people in Alpena," Nielsen said. "I do hope the community will respect the privacy of the applicants too, because this is not an interview."
Councilman Mike Nowak said he is looking forward to meeting the candidates and the interview process that will follow. He said he encourages people at the meeting who may have questions to kindly ask them and to be respectful.
"I would say because it is an open meeting if someone has a question it would be OK to ask them. They are after all going to be working for the people," Nowak said. "I know if I had any questions I would ask them."
Friday's meeting at the APlex will begin at 5:30 p.m. and wrap up at about 7 p.m. Saturday's meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until all four candidates have been interviewed. Waligora said he expects the meeting to be adjourned for a lunch break.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com