By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
Interim City Manager Jeff Laws
Interim City Manager Jeff Laws

After months of searching for a new city manager, the Lemoore City Council failed to attract and pick an experienced manager to run the city's affairs.

Instead, after many hours of deliberation over the course of several weeks, councilmembers  decided to offer the job to Lemoore Chief of Police Jeff Laws, who has been running the city on an interim basis for the past six months. Laws will be called the acting city manager and will probably hold the position at least for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends at the end of June 2014.

Councilmembers emerged from a closed session on Tuesday (Oct. 1) to announce that Laws is their man, at least for the next nine months or so. "We thank you for doing this for another eight or nine months," said Mayor Billy Siegel.

The city manager search has been ongoing since the council fired former city manager Jeff Briltz amid a hailstorm of controversy. The application process ended on June 17 with only 16 candidates applying for the position.

The council, in the early stages of its manager search, opted for a set of guidelines which allowed Laws, the recently appointed interim city manager and Administrative Analyst J.P. Prichard, to review city manager applicants before sending the finalists to an expert panel of former city managers to interview those remaining applicants. From there a citizens’ panel reviewed and narrowed the final list to four applicants.

Laws did interview for the position, that according to Councilmember Willard Rodarmel.

Laws, 50, started with the City of Lemoore in 1997 as a police commander and was second-in-command for several years before taking up the chief’s reins when former Chief of Police Kim Morrell retired. Since the sacking of Briltz, Laws has held the dual roles of city manager and police chief.

Laws told The Leader in an earlier interview that he wasn't sure when the council is going to appoint a new city manager. “I have no idea what they’re doing,” he said.

Asked if he would accept an offer, Laws was non-committal. “I’d have to think about it,” he said. He indicated that he has three years before he’s eligible for retirement and said he would need at least a 3-year guarantee before he would consider accepting the job.