LOWELL -- Former City Councilor George Ramirez and State. Rep Kevin Murphy were the two finalists for city manager who secured the most votes from councilors when selecting their top five candidates for interviews.
Ramirez, the executive vice president of Devens operations for MassDevelopment, was selected by all nine councilors for an interview.
Murphy, a Lowell Democrat who has represented the city since 1997, was on the interview lists of eight councilors.
City Councilor John Leahy, Ramirez's brother-in-law, told The Sun he was the lone councilor not to put Murphy on his interview list.
Leahy said he did not list Murphy because he wants the next city manager to be someone with experience managing a city or town.
"I'm trying to pick someone doing the position or who has done the position," Leahy said.
The councilor also said he based his choices for interviews partially on feedback he has received from members of the public.
"People are saying they like having what they consider a professional manager," Leahy said. "They want someone doing this or who has experience in this."
North Reading Town Administrator Greg Balukonis, former Birmingham, Mich., City Manager Robert Bruner, former East Providence, R.I., City Manager Peter Graczykowski, and Blackstone Town Administrator Daniel Keyes are the other four finalists.
Leahy said he had nothing against Murphy.
"Whether or not I voted for him, he was going to get an interview," Leahy added. "I was trying to widen the pool."
Ramirez, who essentially serves as town manager of Devens, was on Leahy's list of five candidates for interviews. Leahy did not disclose the other candidates he selected for interviews.
The finalists and the number of votes they received from councilors have yet to be officially released by the city.
Leahy has said he has received clearance from the state Ethics Commission to participate in the city manager selection process, as long as he filed a disclosure form concerning the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Leahy filed a written disclosure with the City Clerk's Office on Monday acknowledging his relationship with Ramirez.
Tonight the City Council will take up Councilor James Milinazzo's motion requesting the council consider restarting the manager's search in light of The Sun's publishing of information about applicants last week.
On Wednesday night, the council will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. to solicit input from the public on what they are looking for in a city manager.
City Clerk Michael Geary is serving as acting city manager.
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