Tacoma eyes 4 candidates to lead economic development at City Hall

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ellen Miller-Wolfe, Ricardo Noguera, Eric Anthony Johnson, and Steven J. Anderson / COURTESY PHOTOS

Four finalists vying to be the City of Tacoma’s next community and economic development director will take part in a day-long interview process on July 30, officials announced Wednesday.

The interviews will include four community panels comprised of individuals from the business district and associations, representatives from local boards, special interest groups, and members of the City’s executive leadership team. The panelists will be asked to provide City Manager T.C. Broadnax with a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

The four candidates were among 69 applicants who applied for the position as part of a nationwide search. The city manager will hold final interviews on July 31. A selection will be made next month.

Following the panel interviews, a community meet-and-greet will be held on the fifth floor of the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, located at 1500 Broadway, from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. to introduce the candidates to the public.

Tacoma’s community and economic development director is charged with leading economic development strategies and programs city-wide.

The final candidates include Ellen Miller-Wolfe, economic development manager for the City of Kirkland, Wash.; Ricardo Noguera, former housing and economic development director for the City of Visalia, Calif.; Eric Anthony Johnson, Ph.D., executive director for University Park Alliance in Akron, Ohio; and Steven J. Anderson, former president and chief executive officer of Lake County Partners in Lake County, Ill.

The previous director, Ryan Petty, resigned on May 25. He has since been hired by the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

Petty’s departure was the latest in a series of top-level departures at City Hall since Broadnax began as city manager in February. Community relations manager Rob McNair-Huff left the city on June 29. On May 18, Tacoma’s finance director Bob Biles resigned. On May 4, deputy city manager Rey Arellano resigned. Finally, Tacoma Fire Department Chief Ronald W. Stephens retired March 29. Stephens was appointed fire chief in 2006, and served 35 years with the department.