Santa Rosa's hunt for a new city manager kicks off this week with an opportunity for the public to say what they want to see in the city's next top executive.

The City Council will hold a study session at 3 p.m. Tuesday to allow members of the public and council to tell its recruiter about the kind of leader they want to succeed City Manager Kathy Millison.

Millison, 62, was hired away from Clovis in 2010 by a City Council divided over whether she was the right candidate for the job. She has won praise for helping put the city on more stable financial footing and for making good hiring decisions, but also criticism for the city's stumbles with transparent decision-making and for not living full-time in Santa Rosa.

Millison announced in February following her performance review that she would step down in September, a time frame allowing a smooth transition to new leadership. The grandmother of 14 has been in public service for 37 years.

Mayor Scott Bartley recently announced he had formed a subcommittee to manage the recruitment process. He and Vice Mayor Robin Swinth and Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom will serve on the committee, which he said is largely aimed at ensuring the process goes smoothly. He said the subcommittee's main role will be to "make sure things don't get sidetracked."

"If we're going to have a graceful handoff, we've got to get moving," Bartley said.

The city has hired consulting firm Ralph Andersen & Associates of Rocklin to help conduct the search at a cost of $28,000, plus related expenses, Millison said.

Input from the council and public will be used by the recruiter to put together a brochure announcing the job opening, Bartley said.

The recruiter will narrow the search field and submit candidates for consideration by the full council, he said.

The city manager post is just one of several key leadership vacancies in the city. The recruitment of a new police chief has been put off until after the November election.

The city is in the process of hiring a new chief financial officer and a new fire chief.

The deadline for applicants for the CFO position was March 28, and the city expects to make a hire some time in May, Millison said.

The city also needs to hire a new fire chief.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @citybeater.