Four finalists for the position of Joplin city manager will come to town for discussions with the City Council and economic development leaders along with meeting the public.
Two candidates are from Missouri and two are from the far reaches of the U.S., the states of Washington and Florida. All have experience in city and/or county management.
• Darin Chappell is the current city administrator for Chillicothe, in northern Missouri. He has previously been the city administrator for Bolivar and Seymour, as well as a senior analyst for a local government program in Springfield. He has a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor's degree in political science from Missouri State University. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Army Reserves.
Asked why he is interested in the job, Chappell said he is from the Springfield area and has family here. He is intrigued by an opportunity to help Joplin launch its next chapter after the devastating 2011 tornado that leveled a third of the city.
"Seeing the community work together (in the tornado aftermath) the way it did was, quite frankly, inspiring," he said. "I would like to help focus that same community spirit to continue to grow and make the city the very best we can make it together."
• Nick Edwards, a native of Joplin, worked the past nine years for the city of Lee's Summit, near Kansas City, with the last two years as assistant city manager there. He has a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor's degree in political science from Missouri Southern State University. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
"Joplin is my hometown," he said when asked why he had applied for the job. "It's a place I love. I am really proud of the community, and I want to help it take the next step forward."
An instructor at Missouri Southern interested Edwards in city management.
"I think the thing about it was the opportunity to serve," he said of the profession. "It's really rewarding, and I like the opportunity to make communities a better place to live, and I'd like that opportunity with my hometown as well."
• Shawn Henessee is currently the county administrator for Clark County, Washington. He was previously the city administrator for Pleasant Hill, the county administrator for Marinette County, Wisconsin, and assistant director for Jackson County, Missouri. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from Wichita State University, a master's degree in political science from the University of Kansas and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
"I had the opportunity to spend time in Joplin, and we really like the area," he said of himself and his wife. "I feel it has great opportunity. It's a transportation hub. It is located in an area of four different states ... so I see a lot of opportunity there. It's a wonderful area, the people are wonderful."
• Leonard Sossamon, who was the county administrator for Hernando County, Florida, the last seven years, has extensive experience in economic development and city and county administration. He was also a consultant for Jordan Brown Management Corp., the chief operating officer of Alliance Development Group and founder of the redevelopment company Hunter and Brown Inc., as well as county administrator for Newberry, South Carolina, and Concord, North Carolina.
"I think Missouri is similar to North Carolina, where I grew up," Sossamon said. Joplin is in the range of what he considers to be perfect size cities of population 50,000 to 150,000.
He said he surmises "Joplin is interested in regionalism and economic development, and I have really strong skills in those areas." He helped Concord grow in population, and "I feel like I could do something similar for Joplin."
He also has experience in airport operations, having overseen a project to build an airport at Concord. Building commercial air service is "right in my wheelhouse," Sossamon said. "I'd love to be able to work with the council, mayor and the citizens to see what I could do with the airport and industrial base in Joplin," adding that he has been involved in economic and community development in past jobs, including retail expansion.
"I'm excited about the opportunity" in Joplin, he said.
The final interview process will start Sunday, Feb. 23, with a tour of the city and City Hall for the candidates and their spouses as well as a casual dinner with council members and their spouses.
On Monday, Feb. 24, the candidates will meet with department heads. They will be interviewed by news media representatives and then meet with representatives of Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.
The council is inviting the public to meet the candidates from 11:10 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. that Monday in the council chambers on the fifth floor of City Hall.
After lunch, the council will hold closed-door interviews with them.
The city’s health department director, Dan Pekarek, is serving as interim city manager. The former manager, Sam Anselm, left the job in March.