The interim tag is off.

Eight months after former Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes resigned, the Columbia City Council named interim City Manager John Glascock as his successor Monday.

In the announcement, Mayor Brian Treece said the search process had been exhaustive, with more than 500 comments from the community and 75 meetings.

The community, most of all, wanted “a person of integrity who values and lives transparency,” Treece said. “Now more than ever our community needs stable leadership. We heard the community wanted a manager who was committed to public service and committed to our community.”

After being introduced, Glascock said the announcement was a “wow moment” in his life.

“I am honored and grateful for the trust being placed in me to lead our community,” Glascock said.

Treece and council members said at a news conference Monday morning the city needs stability from its next city manager. Treece said Glascock appealed to the council in part because city government would be interrupted by a new city manager learning to do the job.

Glascock beat out Racine, Wisconsin, City Administrator Jim Palenick, the other finalist interviewed by the council.

“More than anything, we wanted to take the interim title off and let the business of government and city government continue,” Treece said. “John’s love of this community and his service to our city and community so far really spoke volumes.”

Officially, Glascock does not hold the title of city manager yet. Monday night the council will vote to appoint Glascock to the post and begin negotiations with Glascock for the position. A contract could be finalized before the council’s Aug. 5 meeting.

Glascock began his career with the city in May 2003 as the city’s chief engineer. He was director of public works from May 2005 to September 2015, when he became deputy city manager. Glascock came to the city after 19 years with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Glascock, 60, said he never dreamed of becoming a city manager, let alone become one this late in his career.

“Especially as an engineer, being a city manager is quite unique, I think,” Glascock said.

Previously Palenick told the Racine Journal Times the job offered him a chance at a “career-defining position.”

“As a city manager you want to be in a community ultimately that feels good to you, that’s exciting, that’s vibrant, that you feel like you can make a difference,” Palenick said Thursday during a session with Columbia reporters. “I think all those things are manifested in Columbia.”

Council members previously said they liked Palenick’s experience as a lifelong city administrator.

Still, Palenick’s record drew scrutiny from the public. He was fired from three of his seven city manager jobs. Palenick chalked up the short stops on his resume to politicians playing politics.

At a stop in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the state’s attorney general eventually determined the city’s mayor and several city attorneys violated the state’s open meetings act when they fired him as the city manager. Later Palenick sued his former employer to recover back pay, even as he applied for his old position.

The Columbia Police Officers Association endorsed Glascock last week because he quickly earned the trust of the community, the organization said in a news release. Palenick received a $110,000 severance package after he was terminated from his job in Rio Rancho, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

CPOA said there was substantial evidence in Palenick’s suit that he misled Rio Rancho taxpayers when he demanded back pay and a severance package.

Treece said the council knew about Palenick’s firings, but said he also brought a wealth of experience to the table.

“We shouldn’t confuse the interruptions in service of his last six years with his 30 years of experience as a city manager,” Treece said.

In January the council awarded Sacramento, California-based CPS HR Consulting a contract for up to $27,500 to conduct the search. Thirty-three candidates applied.

Treece said the expense and investment helped the city see how other candidates would tackle issues like community policing and airport renovations. Sixth Ward Councilwoman Betsy Peters agreed the search for an outside candidate was worth the effort.

“For me it was very helpful for me to look at candidates who were not local candidates,” Peters said. “But in the end John brings the stability that we need.”

Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp and Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer also said they were open to outside candidates. During his stint as interim city manager, Glascock drew praise from city employees, community members and other groups for fostering an open, collaborative and diverse city government.

Pitzer said Glascock’s leadership during his interim period swayed his vote.

“I’m sure that there is a time and situation where the external candidate would’ve made an excellent choice,” Pitzer said. “But for Columbia right now it became apparent to me that it was about finding the right fit for what Columbia is facing right now.”

Council members met with city department heads and solicited their feedback about both candidates. Seventeen department heads gave Glascock high praise when he was not in the room, Treece said.

Trapp and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said the meeting swayed them.

“As I’ve worked closely with Mr. Glascock, I’ve just been really impressed,” Trapp said. “I think we’re going to see a lot of positive change over the years of his tenure.”

pjoens@columbiatribune.com