A subcommittee of the Juneau Assembly will recommend a month-long search process for a new City Attorney when the full Assembly meets as Committee of the Whole on Monday.
Jesse Kiehl is chair of the Assembly’s City Attorney Search Subcommittee. He says the group will recommend the Assembly start reviewing applications on June 10th. That leaves just three weeks to do interviews and hire a replacement for outgoing City Attorney John Hartle, who will resign June 30th.
“That makes our process for hiring a new city attorney fairly tight,” admits Kiehl.
But he says the Assembly has options if the new attorney isn’t ready to start immediately, or if the application period needs to be extended.
“If we expect a long delay, we may bring in an attorney as a temp,” Kiehl says. “If it’s going to be relatively short, we may elevate one of our current staff and contract out specific pieces of work to private firms. There are some former city attorneys who could potentially drop in and serve as acting city attorney. And someone may come up with another idea still.”
The subcommittee on Friday also approved a job description and position announcement for recommendation to the full Assembly. It includes just one requirement: applicants must be members of the Alaska Bar. Besides that there are a number of desired qualifications, including 10 years of combined experience working for a large organization, legislative body, or municipality. The Assembly also wants somebody with experience prosecuting criminal cases like driving under the influence and domestic violence.
Kiehl says the City Attorney is kind of like “a micro-Attorney General.”
“That varies from disputes with the state or federal government, to employment law, to contract negotiations and contract disputes,” he says. “The city attorney serves as the lawyer for the manager, the departments, for our enterprise boards, as well as the city assembly.”
The committee is recommending a minimum starting salary of $120,000, but candidates with more experience may be able to negotiate higher pay. Hartle’s current salary is about $140,000, though he has been in the job for 10 years, and with the CBJ Law Department for 20 years.
The position will be advertised in the state’s three largest newspapers, as well as the city and Alaska Bar websites.
City Attorney is one of two positions, along with City Manager, hired by the Assembly.