And then there were two.
The Hampton City Council is close to deciding who will replace longtime City Manager Christopher Lochner, with a pair of final candidates meeting all of the qualifications set by the council.
After a long and hard-fought effort, council members feel confident they’ll have the right person when the position comes up for a vote on Sept. 13.
“We hope to have a new manager available to start this autumn on an interim basis. The new employee will shadow Chris for two or three months before he retires,” said Carolyn Johnson, council president.
Council members began working on filling the future vacancy in June and July, when they selected six candidates out of 16 who applied. Initial interviews were conducted with these six candidates.
With Lochner’s help, the board generated a detailed hiring scenario and specific job requirements based on his current responsibilities. His daily operations were recorded and used as guidelines for the future manager.
“In early spring, the Board asked Chris to review and update his current job description. He did so and put together a brochure for the Hamptons that highlights our future challenges and past successes. The brochure was a useful recruiting tool when looking for his replacement,” Johnson said.
After the initial round of interviews, the top two applicants were selected for personal interviews. They were invited to town hall last week to meet with Chris Lochner, the accounting department and other town officials.
“The interviews included a presentation by each candidate on two topics that the board had selected and provided in advance,” Johnson said:
• What do you envision the emergency services of Hampton Township to look like in 2030 and what is the path you think will get us to that vision? What changes will need to be made and how will you gain approval from relevant stakeholders for these changes?
• The municipality recently completed both an enforceable comprehensive plan that partially addresses our parks and a comprehensive recreation, parks and open space plan update. How would you prioritize the parks recommendations in these plans over the next 10 years and what would your plan be for funding these changes?
The Board was satisfied with the preparedness and responses of both candidates.
Lochner, who is retiring at the end of the year, has been Hampton’s manager since 1986. Before that, he was a neighborhood manager in Edgewood for three and a half years, starting at age 24.
“All the people I’ve worked with over the years have been great. Let me put it to you this way, I was involved in the hiring or hiring of all but three of the employees here at Hampton,” he said.
He boasts countless accomplishments over the years, but the one that stands out the most is the construction of the Hampton Township Community Center.
“Just figuring out what we needed and what we wanted in the building and then just making it all happen and finally seeing the finished project was amazing,” Lochner said.
When asked what advice he would give to his successor, he replied:
“Be yourself. Don’t try to do it the way I would do it. Just be yourself.”