In less than 40 minutes, Red Bank city commissioners whittled a list of 39 applicants for city manager to five.
Only two of the applicants to make the final cut have held a government administrative position, and all but one are local residents.
At a roundtable meeting Wednesday evening, commissioners voted "yes" or "no" as each applicant's name was read. Names with three or more votes made it to the top five.
As the list narrowed, commissioners debated about who met the job description.
"Three of our top five have no government experience," said Commissioner Ruth Jeno. "We don't need a fish out of water here. ... We all know that government runs differently than a business."
Randall Fairbanks, of Soddy-Daisy
Jim Folkner, of Chattanooga
Randall Hemann, of Salisbury, N.C.
Mark Matthews, of Red Bank
Marty Von Schaaf, of Chattanooga
Source: Red Bank Board of Commissioners
Red Bank city commissioners will interview the four local city manager candidates Nov. 21 and interview the candidate from out of town at a later date. The commission will make its decision Dec. 6.
"I think running government is like running a business," Mayor Monty Millard promptly responded.
"Me, too," said Commissioner Floy Pierce. "I used to think the other way until I got into it."
Three applicants are local businessmen: Marty Von Schaaf, head of the Hamilton County Republican Party who works as a client adviser for BMW of Chattanooga; Jim Folkner, a local businessman and real estate developer who spearheaded the effort to recall Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield; and accountant Randy Fairbanks, who owns Fairbanks Bookkeeping & Tax Service and whose family is well-known in Red Bank.
The city manager posting drew resumes from 15 states, but only one out-of-town applicant -- Randall Hemann, of Salisbury, N.C. -- made it to the final five.
Hemann has served 15 years as the executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc., working to revitalize the town after serving in redevelopment posts with two other cities.
All five commissioners voted to include veteran Red Bank Fire Chief Mark Matthews in the list, despite the fact he lacks a college degree.
"He knows the city inside and outside, like the back of his hands. To me that's better than a college education," Jeno said.
"I want someone who really has Red Bank's best interest at heart," he said. "We may not have had that at the last several city managers here, because they didn't grow up here."
The commission suddenly voted 3-2 early last month to fire then-City Manager Chris Dorsey, who had held the position for six years. Pierce, Jones and Roberts -- the commissioners who voted to fire Dorsey -- all cited problems with Dorsey's "personnel management style" as the chief reason for their decision.