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Bethel City Council narrows down city manager candidates to 3 finalists

Bethel City Council chambers.
Elyssa Loughlin
Bethel City Council chambers.

Bethel’s city council will interview three finalist candidates to be the new city manager.

Council members discussed six finalist applicants for the city manager job during a special meeting on Dec. 14, focusing on four of the six. Candidates’ names were not shared publicly during the meeting. Instead, council members referred to the candidates by numbers.

After a closed-door discussion, the council moved to narrow the list and interview and conduct background checks on three of the six candidates presented.

Bethel has been without a full-time city manager since late June 2023 when former manager Pete Williams retired. Elected officials approved a contract of up to $24,500 with the Illinois-based recruiting company GovHR to help with the search earlier this year.

None of the three finalists have professional experience in Alaska. Only one of the three has experience as a city manager for a municipality, although another has experience in municipal government positions.

John Millan (Candidate 3) has worked for the City of Pasco in Washington State as its deputy director of public works since 2016. He’s also held various other public works positions in cities around the state of Washington. He is a retired veteran of the Army National Guard.

Bert O’Rear (Candidate 4) has been the town administrator for the tiny town of Olar, South Carolina (pop. 240) since 2016. In recent years, he’s also held administrative positions for municipal and county governments in South Carolina. He is a Tribal Member of the Whitetop Nation of American Indians.

Joe Rodriguez (Candidate 6) is the manager of an airport security operation in Tampa, Florida, a position he’s held since 2022. He has also been a small business owner, worked as a lending advisor, and held a managerial position for the Arizona Department of Corrections for 15 years.

Council members did not discuss the timeline for potentially making a job offer to one of the three finalists.

Bethel’s city clerk said that the city received a total of 17 applications for the city manager position during this round of job postings, which opened in the fall.

Starting pay for Bethel’s city manager position is between $135,000 and $169,000 with benefits, according to the job posting.

Sage Smiley is KYUK's news director.