EBR planning director candidates scheduled for March interviews

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The eight finalists for East Baton Rouge Parish’s top planning job will be in Baton Rouge on March 7-8 for public interviews.

As the four-month search for a new planning director enters its final phases, members of the committee tasked with leading the effort have said they anticipate that a hire will be named in the coming weeks — possibly by the end of March.

“I would love for us to finish this quarter with this process finished,” City-Parish Planning Commission Chairwoman Tara Wicker said Friday. “I don’t want to run the risk of stretching this out.”

Last week, the Planning Commission selected the slate of finalists from more than 90 applications for the planning director job, and all have since been notified of their finalist status and upcoming interviews. They include planners from Louisiana cities Central and Monroe, as well as candidates from Atlanta; San Antonio; Cincinnati; Norfolk, Va.; Fairfax, Va.; and Columbus, Ga.

A schedule that the commission’s search committee approved Friday has candidates participating in hourlong interviews in the Metro Council chambers. Four will be interviewed each day, starting at 1:15 p.m. March 7 and 9 a.m. March 8. Finalists haven’t yet been assigned specific timeslots because their travel arrangements haven’t been finalized.

The candidates also will participate in a drop-in meeting at the Planning Commission office on Laurel Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 7 and a reception that evening at a location to be determined. All events are open to the public.

The planning department is setting aside an estimated $6,273 to reimburse candidates for their travel expenses.

The eight finalists are:

  • Charles C. Graves III, director of the Department of City Planning and Buildings for Cincinnati, who holds degrees from Hampton University and New Hampshire College and a certificate of advanced study from Harvard University.
  • Fairfax County, Va., Policy and Plan Development Chief Sterling Wheeler, who has degrees from Texas A&M.
  • San Antonio Assistant Director of Community Development Patrick Howard, who has degrees from Clemson University and Old Dominion University.
  • Woodrow Muhammad, the planning director for Central, who has degrees from LSU and Southern University.
  • Monroe Planning and Urban Development Director Christopher Fisher, who has degrees from Concordia University, University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette) and Prairie View A&M University.
  • Former planning director for Norfolk, Va., Frank Duke, who holds degrees from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Auburn University and Florida State University and served as an intern for Baton Rouge’s retired planning director, Troy Bunch.
  • Don Broussard, who owns a planning and design firm in Atlanta, has previously served in public planning roles in that area and has degrees from Georgia Tech and LSU.
  • Former East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission planning director Carolyn Rutledge of Columbus, Ga., who has a degree from the University of Mississippi.