Helena commissioners, department heads interview 3 city manager finalists

Nolan Lister

The city of Helena concluded its marathon city manager candidate interview process Wednesday and plans to hold a special meeting Tuesday for the city commissioners to deliberate and make a decision.

The interview process, led by Helena-based CMS Consulting, involved members of Helena Citizens’ Council, city staff and the commissioners.

Interviews of the three finalists, Clifford Strachan of South Jordan, Utah, Michael Thomas of Amity, Oregon, and current interim City Manager Tim Burton, stretched over two days.

While Burton and Strachan wrapped up their interviews with city leadership and officials Tuesday, Thomas completed those interviews Wednesday.

Questions from all three groups of interviewees were similar and centered around many of the city’s most pressing issues, including housing, climate change and infrastructure.

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But the commissioners and city department heads also inquired about workplace matters like management style and consensus building.

Burton leaned heavily during his interviews on his lengthy career in public service, citing accomplishments during his time at the National League of Cities where he helped create a race equity in leadership program for municipalities across the country and while working as Lewis and Clark County’s first

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