When Madison Fire Chief Debra Amesqua retires in January she'll be leaving big shoes to fill. There are lots of people in the department right now who could do that, but why not cast the broadest net possible?
For some reason that is escaping me, the Police and Fire Commission, which hires and fires the police and fire chiefs, has decided to limit its search to internal candidates for Amesqua's job.
My philosophy in making department head hires was that generally I wanted to lean toward an internal hire when a department was functioning well and lean toward an outsider when things needed to change. But that's not the way it worked out every time, and I never limited myself to candidates who were currently employed by the city.
In fact, Amesqua herself wouldn't have been hired under the PFC's constricted field because she came from another department. And while we're on that subject, by limiting itself to internal candidates, the PFC is also limiting the diversity of potential candidates.
Look, even if we broaden the field the PFC may end up picking an internal candidate -- and that would be fine because there are so many good ones. But the new chief could well serve for 10 years or longer, as Debra Amesqua has, so if it's likely to be a decision for a decade why not get the broadest possible field of candidates to choose from?