Editorial | An open process

Editorial | An open process

Urbana is wisely letting the sun shine in.

When Diane Marlin ran for mayor of Urbana, one of her pledges was to fill the top administrator's post that was eliminated years ago by her predecessor, longtime Mayor Laurel Prussing.

Marlin is about to fulfill that promise.

The city recently identified four finalists for the job, and they all will be in town to be interviewed and scheduled for meet-and-greets March 19-20.

The four finalists include in-house candidate Elizabeth Hannon, Urbana's finance director. The others are Groton, Conn., town manager John Burt; deputy manager of Arlington County, Va., Carol Mitten; and Angel Jones of NOVAD Management Consulting.

At the moment, it's difficult to judge the relative merits of the candidates. But it's easy to congratulate Urbana city officials for their decision to publicly identify the finalists and bring them to town for community review.

Search processes like these too often are conducted in secret, on the grounds that many job candidates don't want to be publicly identified as being interested in leaving their jobs to go somewhere else.

That can certainly be true. But other government job searches have shown that identifying finalists doesn't lessen the quality of the applicant pool.

In fact, openness can benefit the process because, after all, sunshine is the best disinfectant. Let the public see how the finalists interact with citizens and stakeholders. Spread the word about who they are and see what, if anything, develops.

There's no question that making the right hire is difficult, no matter how much effort goes into the process. Just look how often the seemingly ideal applicants turn out to be disappointments.

So, in that context, the more information that's gathered the better.

Just one thing, though. Urbana officials could have been more selective scheduling the public forum for the four candidates. They picked the evening of March 20, primary election night in Illinois.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion