City manager candidate Cindy Hemphill listed communication and planning skills as essential for the next person to serve as Minot's "chief executive officer."
"Whoever you hire as the city manager, you are entrusting them to be the chief executive officer. They are the ones on the ground, on the day-to-day, to make this business the city run," she said. "To be a good city manager, whether it is in an economic boom or any other time, I believe you have to have leadership skills. You have to be willing to step up front, take responsibility. You have to be visible, and you have to be a key communicator."
Hemphill added that the city manager is accountable to the mayor and council members.
Finance director Cindy Hemphill, a candidate for Minot city manager, chats with council member Dave Lehner following her presentation at a public luncheon Friday.
"As far as the will of the people, I truly believe that's what the elected officials are representing, and we will carry that out as the elected officials direct us to," she said.
Hemphill, Minot city finance director for nearly eight years, was the third candidate for Minot city manager to speak at a public luncheon this week. Her address Friday followed Greg Sund, a county administrator from Hayes, Kan., and Kevin Degenstein, a former utility company president from Great Falls, Mont.
Hemphill, a graduate of Minot State University, is a certified public accountant with a master's degree in management. She previously worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Energy. She was vice president of reimbursement for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota before joining the City of Minot in 2006.
She has been in a key position with the city in its flood recovery efforts. She has served as acting city manager when city manager David Waind has been unavailable. The city is seeking to replace Waind when he retires at the end of March.
Hemphill suggested that in addition to transportation, infrastructure and other existing planning efforts, the city look at its own facilities, from fire stations to administration, to ensure it is prepared to take care of the city.
"If you have a plan and you follow your plan, I think it is definitely the building blocks that you need to be able to manage during an economic boom. Not only during a boom but at other times, also, so it's important that you keep your plans updated," she said. "Even if you have a plan, you have to have buy-in on your plan and you have to have a way to finance it. So you have to build partnerships."
She stressed the need to work with legislators, other state and federal government leaders, and with private enterprise.
"We have to make them understand what the boom is doing to us, and we need the support of the governor and the state and local legislators to bring more oil impact money into the community of Minot, because we want to have a sustainable city after the economic boom is over," Hemphill said. "We want to be a city that's affordable, that's accessible, that has diversity, that has quality of life and has safety. We need to have homes that are affordable."
Having partnerships in place will be important to a full recovery from the 2011 flood, she said.
"For Minot to be a competitive city, people need to feel that they are going to be protected from such an event in the future," Hemphill said.
"We need to be able to meet our current needs, but we can't do it compromising the ability of our future generations," she said. "Right now, our (water and sewer) utility rates have gotten to be some of the highest in the state of North Dakota. That's going to impact our future generations."
A task force that has been interviewing the candidates will make a recommendation by the end of next week for the Minot City Council to consider at its March 3 meeting.