The Starkville Board of Aldermen interviewed three candidates for the city’s Director of Community Development position Wednesday during a special-call meeting at the Sportsplex.
The position calls for management of the Community Development Department, formerly known as the Building, Codes and Planning Department.
The three candidates were Charles Cameron Ross, Donovan Scruggs and William Snowden.
A fourth candidate, Joseph Cooley, removed his name from consideration after accepting a different job, Starkville Personnel Director Randy Boyd said.
Ross is currently director of community development in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a native Mississippian with a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology, a master’s degree in community planning and experience at the municipal and federal government levels in planning and development, environmental impact, land use and economic development.
Scruggs, a Mississippi State University alumnus, is the planning manager of Hattiesburg and works as an independent town planning consultant in Ocean Springs. He was the director of community development and planning in Ocean Springs from 2000-07. He has a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in public policy and administration, each from MSU.
Snowden has a firm specializing in comprehensive planning as well as planning and zoning. He was director of office of economic development in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for nearly three years. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics, master’s degrees in political science and public administration as well as city planning. He has development experience in Tuscaloosa as well as Auburn, Ala.
Last year, the board adopted a form-based code as a means of setting architectural and land use guidelines. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said after the interviews that each candidate made a strong impression and the decision to implement form-based codes was instrumental in attracting top-tier candidates for the vacancy.
“I think probably the most important thing I took out of that interview process is that there are people I think any community would be proud to have as a staff member are interested in a job in Starkville. We had an exceptional group of candidates. (They) impressed on paper, but more impressed in person,” Sistrunk said. “They were very different candidates. I think what we’re going to have to figure out which path we want to go on because a hire from that group will set us on a very distinct path.”