HELENA – Helena leaders have announced their top choice to become the next city manager.
The Helena City Commission unanimously voted Sunday to begin contract negotiations with Ana Cortez.
Cortez is currently the assistant city manager for Yakima, Washington. She previously worked for a number of cities in California, most recently West Sacramento.
Cortez was among 116 applicants for the city manager position. On Saturday, the commission brought four finalists to Helena for public interviews: Cortez; Curtis Calder, the city manager of Elko, Nevada; Susan Parker, most recently the town administrator for Sunset Beach, North Carolina; and Susan Robertson, the city administrator for Sun Valley, Idaho. Cortez and Robertson returned Sunday morning for follow-up interviews.
Commissioner Andres Haladay said all the candidates they spoke to were impressive, but Cortez was at the top.
“For me, her experience stood out,” he said. “She appears to be a dynamic candidate.”
He thanked the public for the interest they’ve taken in the hiring process. About 70 people met with the finalists Friday night, during an open house hosted by the Helena Citizens’ Council. During her interview Saturday, Cortez said she had been impressed by the civic engagement in the Helena community.
Haladay said he hopes the city and Cortez can reach an agreement in a timely manner. Once a contract is reached, the city commission will give it final approval at a later meeting.
“We’d love it if she could start by January,” Haladay said.
Former city manager Ron Alles stepped down from the position at the end of June. Dennis Taylor is currently serving as city manager, and will remain in the job until a permanent replacement takes over.