Over the past few weeks two important public positions became vacant and were filled with interim candidates. Havre will be looking to hire a new police chief and a high school principal in the near future; both positions will be facing some unique challenges requiring a unique skill-set. The ability to do more with less as well as lead, build consensus, manage and think outside the box will be important skills.
We hope that a regional search will be conducted for both positions to ensure that they are filled with the most qualified candidates. Superintendent Andy Carlson has said that is his plan. We have not heard from Mayor Tim Solomon regarding his plan and timetable for filling the police chief’s position. If interim Police Chief Gabe Matosich and interim Havre High School Principal Dennis Murphy are the most qualified for the positions — great, then they should emerge as such through an open and competitive interview. The job search and hiring process needs to be open and transparent as possible, since these positions are being funded by our taxes.
It is common when filling a public position that a selection committee is appointed and filled with members qualified to ferret out the most qualified person for the job. A regional search is conducted and finalist for the job then compete through an open interview before the selection committee. The committee develops the interview questions with all candidates answering the same questions to insure that the process is run fairly.
This selection committee is usually composed of one’s peers, one or two council members or trustees in the case of the school board. An interview committee for the police chief is usually of comprised of city managers, police chiefs and sheriffs from the surrounding area. This ensures that the best and most qualified candidate is hired. Surrounding communities would expect reciprocity in turn when filling similar positions. In the case of the selection committee for the principal’s position, principals and superintendents from other districts outside of the Havre’s district would comprise the selection committee.
If the current interim candidates, Matosich and Murphy, are the most qualified — then it’s a win for them and the community — everyone benefits and it’s not a matter of one person making an appointment. We all want the selection process to be fair, and the positions filled with the most qualified candidate.
There are too many important issues that need to be addressed over the next few years to err and shorten the hiring process. We feel that easing the interim candidates into these positions without going through a thorough and open search is short-sighted and not in the best interest of the community.