IT'S NOT uncommon that the two largest cities in the region -- Quincy and Hannibal --share circumstances, but it is unique that both cities are looking for new administrators simultaneously.
Hannibal City Administrator Jeff LaGarce announced last month that he would be stepping down in March, and Quincy's Director of Administrative Services John "Skip" Bright will resign from the job early next month.
Responsible for the day-to-day management of the cities, these positions are tasked with executing the vision of each city's mayor and council. They are vital positions that require extensive organizational leadership and management experience.
The cities face bright futures. Unemployment is down, and both federal and state governments have discussed the need for major infrastructure improvements. Historically, both have taken advantage of these opportunities. Today, they are planning to improve their river access for tourism and trade, which would help grow the region.
Each city knows how important it is for their future to find the strongest possible candidate for these position. Hannibal is planning to hire a third party to conduct a nationwide firm. Quincy has yet to announce their plans to fill the director of services position, but history shows they will give this search serious consideration and attention. This is not the first time either city has had a vacancy in the respective position. Quincy had an interim director as recently as 2016, while LaGarce has been with Hannibal since 2006.
In their search, leaders will have to identify their top priorities in candidates. Each certainly will seek candidates who have the most potential to grow their communities economically, culturally and socially. However, because both are seeking new administrators, why not make cross-river coordination a key aspect?
West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri excel when both sides of the river cooperate. The Tri-State Development Summit and its work to identify and address issues affecting the region is a prime example of how the region benefits through coordination. Last year, the chambers of commerce in Hannibal and Quincy worked together on several projects, and residents frequently travel across the river for work and for recreation.
Infrastructure, tourism and job growth are major areas where both cities have potential to grow. Each should make sure their choice for the position prioritizes these areas for the city and the region, using whatever resources are available. For nearly 200 years, the fates of Quincy and Hannibal have intertwined. Now is the time for them to emphasize coordination.
In the coming months, Hannibal and Quincy should look for candidates who are not only focused on making each city the best it can be, but forging bonds with partners across the river. With that attitude, Hannibal's next city administrator and Quincy's next director of administrative services can help grow their respective communities in new ways that will lead the cities -- and the region -- into the future.