By Ryder Todd Smith
On the morning of April 1, 2023 (and no this is not an April Fools Day prank) I opened a ChatGPT session and proceeded to ask it a series of high-level questions about the city management profession. As I contemplated the role that artificial intelligence (AI) might play in the future with council members learning how to hire and manage a city manager or young professionals learning about the profession, I figured it would be smart to know what AI thought. So I asked. Here are the results it generated on that date.

As an AI language model, I do not have personal experiences or emotions to certify and my responses are purely based on research and texts.

A city manager is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a city government. This includes overseeing all city departments, preparing and implementing the city budget, and working with elected officials to develop policies and plans for the city’s future. The city manager also serves as the primary liaison between the city government and the community, working closely with residents, businesses, and community groups to address their needs and concerns. The role of a city manager can vary depending on the size and structure of the city government, but their primary responsibility is to ensure that the city government runs smoothly and effectively to serve the needs of the community.

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal opinions or beliefs, but I can provide you with some qualities that are commonly associated with good city managers:

  • Strong leadership skills: A good city manager should be a strong leader who is capable of managing teams, making tough decisions, and inspiring others.
  • Strategic thinking: A city manager should possess strategic thinking skills to lead the city towards progress and prosperity.
  • Excellent communication skills: Good city managers should be skilled communicators, capable of effectively communicating with city council members, the public, and stakeholders.
  • Financial acumen: A good city manager should have strong knowledge of budgeting and financial management to ensure the efficient use of resources.
  • Experience in public administration: Good city managers should have a background in public administration, involvement in community advocacy, and knowledgeable on how the government operates, to oversee the operations effectively.
  • Ability to balance multiple priorities: A city manager should have the ability to prioritize and balance multiple priorities, often with competing demands.
  • Good problem-solving skills: City managers will face challenges that require comprehensive analysis, critical thinking, and innovative solutions that benefit the community as whole.

As an AI language model, I do not know which specific city you are referring to, but here are some general steps you can take to find a good city manager:

  • Define the job description: Determine the responsibilities and qualifications required for the position of city manager.
  • Advertise the position: Post the job opening on city government websites, in local newspapers, professional networks, and on job boards.
  • Conduct a search: Review resumes and applications, and conduct interviews with qualified candidates.
  • Check references: Contact the references of top candidates to verify their skills, experience, and background.
  • Consider qualifications: Evaluate the qualifications and professional experience of the candidates, including their education, work history, and achievements.
  • Evaluate leadership skills: Assess the candidates’ leadership skills, including their ability to communicate, manage a team, and adapt to change.
  • Consider local knowledge: Look for candidates who have experience working in a city or community similar to yours and have a good understanding of local issues.
  • Involve the community: Consider involving community members or panels in the interview process to ensure their voices are heard.
  • Make an offer: Offer the most qualified candidate the position and negotiate employment terms.

Remember to conduct a thorough background check, including criminal history and credit reports, before making a job offer. Additionally, review the city’s laws and regulations regarding hiring procedures and ensure that they are followed throughout the process.

[Editors Note: Lorie Tinfow as Palo Alto city manager is wrong (AI is not perfect, yet)]

As an AI language model, I don’t have opinions or personal beliefs. However, here are the highest paid city managers in California as of 2021, according to Transparent California:

  1. Lorie Tinfow – City Manager of Palo Alto
  2. Tom Modica – City Manager of Long Beach
  3. James Keene – City Manager of Palo Alto (he left the position in March 2021)
  4. Scott Ochoa – City Manager of Ontario
  5. Rick Cole – City Manager of Santa Monica (he left the position in April 2021)

Note that there are many talented city managers in California who may not be on this list or be compensated as highly.

To become a city manager, you typically need a combination of education, experience, and qualifications:

  • Education: Most city managers hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in public administration, business administration, or a related field. Some employers may require a Master’s degree.
  • Experience: City managers often start their careers working in entry-level positions in government or nonprofit organizations. Relevant experience in management, finance, or public policy is highly valued.
  • Qualifications: To become a city manager, you must have strong leadership skills, effective communication skills, and the ability to effectively manage budgets and resources. You must also be knowledgeable about local government laws and regulations.

Additional steps to becoming a city manager may include obtaining certification from a professional organization such as the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), participating in internships or volunteer opportunities in local government, and networking with current city managers and other government officials.

In addition, it is important to research current job openings for city manager positions and the qualifications required. It is also helpful to gain an understanding of the specific needs and priorities of the city or municipality you wish to serve.

As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions, but here are some suggestions on how a city council can effectively manage their city manager:

  • Set clear and measurable goals: The city council should set measurable goals for the city manager to achieve. These goals should align with the city’s vision, mission, and strategic plan.
  • Conduct periodic performance reviews: The city council should conduct periodic performance reviews to evaluate the city manager’s performance and provide constructive feedback. This will help the city manager stay on track with his or her goals and duties.
  • Establish open lines of communication: The city council should establish open lines of communication with the city manager to foster a healthy relationship. Regular communication channels should be established to discuss concerns and seek feedback.
  • Provide resources and support: The city council should provide the city manager with the resources and support necessary to accomplish their duties. This may include providing additional staff or funding to support specific projects or initiatives.
  • Hold the city manager accountable: The city council should hold the city manager accountable for his or her actions and decisions. If the city manager is not performing their duties effectively, the city council may need to take action to remove him or her from the position.

By following these guidelines, a city council can effectively manage their city manager and ensure that they are working towards the best interests of the city and its residents.

As an AI language model, I do not have personal experiences or emotions to provide an opinion on this. However, some of the advantages of being a city manager could include having the opportunity to make a positive impact on a community, working with a diverse group of people, and being involved in important decision-making processes that affect the overall well-being of the city.

As an AI language model, I do not have personal experiences or opinions. However, some common challenges that city managers may face include dealing with complex and controversial issues, managing conflicting interests and demands from different groups, navigating bureaucratic politics, and facing public criticism and pressure. Additionally, city managers may be responsible for making difficult budget and policy decisions that can impact the lives of many people in the community.