CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte leaders are expected to discuss on Monday the next steps in finding someone to replace retiring City Manager Curt Walton.

Under a proposed timeline for the manager search, the city council could name a successor to Walton by mid-January, or perhaps even before Christmas.

The public and city employees would have a chance to weigh in on the search, including through meet and greet sessions with finalists in December, according to an item on Monday s council agenda.

The council is expected to vote Monday on the timeline for the manager selection, as well as consider a job description for the post and decide whether to retain an outside firm to help recruit candidates. Human Resources Manager Cheryl Brown is expected to share costs for potential search firms at the meeting.

If the plan is approved by council, the city could begin advertising for the manager job as soon as Wednesday.

Walton, 55, recently announced that he will retire in December after 27 years of working for the city. He has been city manager since 2007, replacing Pam Syfert.

The proposed timeline for choosing a successor to Walton is more compressed than it was five years ago, largely because Syfert announced her retirement about six months before she left the job.

According to the council agenda, naming a new manager by January would allow the position to be filled before the board s planning retreat a month later. It ll also come before discussions of the 2013-14 city operating budget kick into gear.

Some council members have speculated on who might replace Walton, though the naming of names has drawn some scrutiny from others on the board.

For example, in an email to council sent Sept. 28, the day Walton announced he was stepping down, Mayor Anthony Foxx cautioned members against speculating publicly about potential candidates.

Please know that there are potential candidates who may not want to be identified until they have decided to seek the job, Foxx wrote in an email, according to WSOC-TV. There is also the risk that mentioning a specific name will give the perception that that person has an advantage, discouraging other highly qualified people.

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