It only took a matter of minutes for the Tacoma City Council to appoint the city’s interim city manager, Elizabeth Pauli, to the permanent position despite never holding a formal interview or community forum like the top three candidates had to face last week.
Those interviews apparently didn’t go well for them since the council failed to select any of them and instead asked Pauli if she would consider taking on the position, a job she didn’t want when the call for applicants spread around the country last March at a cost of $24,500 in consultation fees. That said, she is well known around city hall, having worked at the city for almost two decades, most recently as the city’s chief attorney and then the interim city manager after T.C. Broadnax left to accept a position in Dallas in February. Pauli is the first woman to hold the position of the city’s top administrator.
“She has been interviewing for this for the last 12 weeks, and she has performed admirably,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said.
Her appointment came unanimously, albeit oddly, since only Strickland, Councilmembers Anders Ibsen, Lauren Walker Lee and Ryan Mello were in Council Chambers during the vote. Councilmembers Robert Thoms and Marty Campbell participated in the discussion and vote over cell phones. Councilmember Keith Blocker and Joe Lonergan were absent, but Strickland read a prepared a statement Lonergan wrote in support of Pauli before the vote.
Pauli’s contract will now be negotiated by city staff.
“Over the past 19 years, Elizabeth Pauli has been involved in just about every decision the City of Tacoma has made, and I am excited about the knowledge and skill sets she brings to this position,” said Strickland in a statement.
The city manager oversees a staff of more than 2,000 and a biennial budget of more than $1.9 billion, which includes a General Fund budget of $461.2 million. Tacoma has a population of approximately 208,000 residents.
Prior to joining the City of Tacoma, Pauli was a partner at the Tacoma-based law firm of McGavick Graves. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and also has Bachelor of Science degrees in education and social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys.