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City manager finalist ousted from job in Tempe

COTTONWOOD -- One of the candidates for Cottonwood city manager position is being driven out of his role as Tempe public works director following complaints of workplace behavior, according to reporting by The Arizona Republic and Phoenix New Times.

Bessler’s last day with the City of Tempe is on Friday, Nov. 9, according to an email sent to city staff by Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching.

“After a number of discussions with Public Works Director Don Bessler that began back in early September, the city management team has determined that it is in both the City and Don’s best interests to make a change in leadership,” Ching wrote in the email provided to The Verde Independent.

Some of these complaints include discrimination against gender and sexual orientation, according to reporting by The Arizona Republic.

Bessler is one of five candidates up for Cottonwood city manager. Cottonwood announced its finalists for the city manager position on Oct. 20. The city council hired the firm, Novak Consulting Group, to assist in the search.

Cottonwood City Council members will interview the candidates on Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17.

Cottonwood City Attorney Steve Horton wrote in an email to The Verde Independent that “the consultant will be performing another, deeper level of due diligence with respect to all candidates.”

Horton said this includes criminal histories, background and reference checks as well as new information that has come to light since the initial review from the applicant pool. Horton said the information will be provided to council before interviews begin on Nov. 16.

“That information will be provided to Council prior to the candidate interviews on November 16, and the finalist interviews the following day, during which I expect the candidates will be asked to address any questions or concerns Council may have regarding their respective professional histories,” Horton said.

In addition to Bessler, the other finalists for the job are:

• Ron Corbin, Deputy City Administrator, City of Yuma, Arizona

• Robert Joseph, Former Assistant City Manager, City of Montrose, Colorado

• Lyman Howard, Former City Manager, City of Sammamish, Washington

• Jesus “Rudy” Rodriguez, Deputy City Manager, City of Cottonwood, Arizona

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