CANNON BEACH — A process is being put into place to find the right candidate to replace Cannon Beach’s City Manager Rich Mays.

“We’re not trying to push Mr. Mays out,” said Mayor Mike Morgan, as the City Council discussed the first steps in what Morgan called “succession planning” at a work session Tuesday night.

“Rich has expressed some interest in and opportunities for eventually finding sunshine,” Morgan said, referring to Mays’ desire to move to Central Oregon, where some of his family is moving later this year.

Mays recently was one of six finalists for the position of Deschutes County administrator. Although he wasn’t hired, he told the City Council earlier this year that he planned to leave the city. However, he hasn’t given a departure date.

Mays, 62, arrived in Cannon Beach seven years ago. He served for 10 years as city administrator in Jefferson City, Mo., and he was city manager in Collinsville, Ill.

The council debated whether it wanted to hire a recruiting firm to perform the search for a new city manager or request assistance from the League of Oregon Cities. Councilors also discussed whether they should create a profile that contained the qualities that they wanted in a new manager.

City Councilor Sam Steidel suggested that the council take the questions contained in the forms used in annual evaluations of Mays as a starting point for a profile. City Councilor Wendy Higgins wondered if consulting the city’s vision statement would help to develop the qualities the council might want in a future manager.

An executive search firm should be involved from the beginning in helping the council to develop a profile, “so they understand what type of person we’re looking for,” said City Councilor Nancy Giasson.

Before that happens, however, councilors individually should create their own personal list of qualities they would like to see in a city manager, suggested Councilor Melissa Cadwallader.

“We have to look at what we think the community is going to need in the future,” she added.

No matter who is hired permanently, Morgan said, there may be a need to hire an interim city manager.

After spending some time discussing what they should do and reaching no consensus, Giasson said she was “dancing around here because I don’t know what Rich’s plans are.”

The council had asked for May’s retirement date, but, Giasson noted, when Mays was recruited for the Deschutes County job there seemed to be an urgency to think about replacing him.

“I can’t figure out the timeline because there are so many variables,” she told Mays. “I don’t want to push you out the door, but I want to make a stable plan. The staff wants to know if they’re going to have two or three bosses this year. There’s a lot of uncertainty,” she said.

Mays told her that he was “ready to leave” but not quickly. He still had to sell his house and take care of other things, he said, and he wasn’t ready to give a departure date. But, Mays added, he would do whatever the council wanted to help find his replacement.

The councilors eventually agreed that Giasson and Higgins would work with Mays to draft a profile to present to the entire council for consideration. At the same time, a list of potential recruiting firms also will be drawn up.

“I look at it like the storm of December 2007,” Giasson said. “It was an opportunity to see what being in a storm was going to be like. It’s really healthy to start this process before the storm hits.”

In other business, the council informally agreed to let Mays develop a draft memorandum of agreement with Seaside School District Supt. Doug Dougherty detailing the district’s commitment to a proposed elementary school in Cannon Beach.

The school, which would replace Cannon Beach Elementary School, would be built on land the city is considering purchasing from the Campbell Group south of the city limits.

The points in the agreement are expected to include the length of time the district would pay to staff the new school, how the building would be maintained, the minimum enrollment allowed before the district would close the school and the ultimate ownership of the old Cannon Beach Elementary School property after the school is vacated.

A draft of the memorandum will be ready for consideration by the council at its meeting May 7.