All three remaining Haines Borough manager candidates have advanced to the next interview round.

On Tuesday, the Haines Borough Assembly held half-hour interviews with borough clerk and interim manager Alekka Fullerton, Department of Defense contractor Robert Rouse, and Tennessee resident and real estate investor George Zoukee, before voting unanimously to ask all of them to participate in more in-depth interviews next week.

The fourth applicant the assembly had planned to interview on Tuesday, director of veteran services for Ontario County, New York, Jeremy Marshall, withdrew from consideration after accepting another job.

In his interview, Rouse pitched himself as a lifelong learner with high standards who gives attention to detail. He said he has experience with disaster response having worked for FEMA. When asked if he had any questions for the assembly, he said he’d heard that they had contacted one of his references, wanting to know if all his certifications were legitimate.

“This, I don’t know if you can see it, this is to verify my FEMA certifications in emergency management where I worked all over the world for FEMA,” Rouse said. He continued, one by one, through a lengthy list of certifications, holding up proof to the computer camera.

Zoukee said his integrity is one of his greatest strengths as a manager. He highlighted his decades of experience working in the public sector in other states. Assembly members asked him his opinion on the biggest challenge Haines faces.

“I’m guessing that cruise ships did not visit the borough last summer and that must have had somewhat of an impact on your tourist numbers, so I would say that finance concerns me,” he said in response to a question about the greatest challenge facing the borough. He added that he hopes to bring stability to the borough manager role and is willing to make a 10-year commitment.

Fullerton’s local knowledge was evident in her answers to interview questions. She cited her high emotional intelligence and ability to befriend people across the political spectrum as some of her greatest strengths. Like Zoukee, she said money is the biggest challenge facing the borough.

“We have a lot of desires,” Fullerton said, listing big-ticket projects including the Lutak Dock and the Public Safety Building.

When asked if she would accept the position if offered it, Fullerton said, “Wow, that’s harder than it should be, actually,” quickly followed by a “yes.” She said she would like time to catch up on borough clerk projects before transitioning to the permanent manager position.

In comments after the interviews, assembly members said they saw strengths and weaknesses in each candidate.

“There probably is no perfect candidate, and I think we saw three very distinct individuals tonight, who all had a lot of qualifications that may very well serve Haines Borough,” assembly member Paul Rogers said. “They all have some specific strengths that could be helpful. They also have some areas where they probably don’t have everything that we would look for if we were searching for the perfect candidate.”

Mayor Douglas Olerud said he agreed with Rogers and that he hopes a second round of hour-long interviews will help assembly members reach a decision.

“I think moving them forward and doing more in-depth interviews will allow us to judge them better and more fairly than we could after our first introductory interviews tonight,” Olerud said.

The assembly will meet on Friday in executive session to fine-tune interview questions in preparation for holding interviews via Zoom on Monday.