LOS ANGELES — The Stockton, Calif., City Council hired a headhunter to help the bankrupt city recruit a city manager to replace Bob Deis.

The council voted during a special meeting Monday to hire Mathis Group, led by management psychologist Bill Mathis, to lead the national search.

The Mathis Group beat two competitors, Alliance Resource Consulting and Avery & Associates, after all three gave presentations to the council Monday night.

Mathis gave the most aggressive timeline for finding a new city manager, saying he plans to have one hired by as early as late November.

Mathis, who has worked as a consultant in the public sector for forty years, told the council he has helped distressed California cities, including San Bernardino and Fresno, to find city managers.

"It's a passion that I have and I'm the most senior recruiter that you'll see tonight," Mathis said during his presentation. "I do it because I love it and I want to community build, and I want to help the community rebuild the trust it has in itself."

He said Stockton's next city manager should have a "fire in their belly" as well as experience and an understanding of working and living in a diverse community. He or she should be ready for the next challenge in life, Mathis said.

According to proposal documents, Mathis Group will charge $19,975, plus expenses up to $3,500 and a $6,500 retainer, to begin the process.

Deis announced in June that he planned to retire Nov. 1, after three years on the job, which included guiding the city into bankruptcy.

Deis started work in Stockton in July 2010 after leaving his job as Sonoma County's top administrator in 2009. When he announced his retirement he said by November he will have accomplished what the City Council asked him to do when he was hired, marking the right moment for him to leave.

Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2012. A federal judge in April approved the Central Valley city of 300,000's eligibility for Chapter 9 protection.

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