Optimism marks search

New Columbia president: Experts predict lively competition among many talented applicants.

July 11, 2000

EVEN BEFORE the headhunter starts, prospective Columbia Association presidents are sending in resumes from as far away as California.

The Columbia Council, by all accounts, will have a grand array of talented individuals to choose from. And why not?

The $130,000 salary appealing. The city is attractive to say the least and the name, Columbia, still has a progressive ring to it.

So, despite a bit of turmoil with the last president, Columbians can be assured that a competent person will lead their city into a challenging future.

Finding the right person will be the task of the council, which serves also as the Columbia Association's board of directors. Some have urged a change in the governing structure, up to and including incorporation.

Other people feel competent and committed leadership is all the city of 87,000 residents lacks.

Citizens voted during the recent town center elections to change the makeup of the council, a signal many believed of deep unhappiness with Deborah O. McCarty, then the president. Ms. McCarty has since departed.

Experts on municipal government, homeowners associations and not-for-profit groups have told the council they think Columbia can easily find a strong, new leader within the six-month timetable that has been set.

First, the council wants to hire a consultant to prospect for someone who, by dint of personality and experience, seems like a good fit.

The association president assumes day-to-day responsibility for a $50 million budget and an array of facilities that range from riding stables to running paths to golf.

A light smattering of Columbia residents attended meetings called to discuss attributes they'd like to see in a new president: business acumen; nice personality; good communications skills; and familiarity and acceptance of Columbia's values.

Nothing fancy, but things a place like Columbia must demand.

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