NCLM spokesman provides suggestions for city manager hunt

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

As it continues with its search for a new city manager, Washington’s City Council will rely on advice provided to it by Hartwell Wright, a human-resources consultant with the North Carolina League of Municipalities.

Wright spoke to the council during its Sept. 28 meeting.

The council is seeking replacement for Brian Alligood, who left the city manager’s post to become the new Beaufort County manager this past summer. After Bobby Roberson resigned from the council in the wake of Alligood’s resignation, he was appointed interim city manager.

Wright told the council that selecting a new city manager will be one of the most-important duties it will perform. Wright suggested several strategies he believes would help make the search for a new city manager easier and productive.

“I thought it might be a little bit beneficial to you to give you a sort of state of the state before you get into your process. … I noticed this afternoon before I left the office, 32 managerial positions being advertised in the Southern Cities paper (a publication about municipalities and counties in the South) today. … There are one of the candidate pools that you will be competing against,” Wright said.

Wright told the council that keeping the identities of prospective city manager confidential is a key element in its search for a new city manager. Those candidates will expect that confidentiality, he said.

“You’ve talked about a lot of important things here tonight, but I think the most important thing you’re going to do is hire the next town manager,” Wright said. “That’s going to take precedent, barring some major catastrophe coming through Washington.”

Wright suggested that each council member and the mayor actively participate in the search for a new city manager. That does not mean each of them must be involved with each element of the search process, he said. Those duties may be divided among the council members and mayor, he noted.

NCLM is prepared to offer general assistance to the city as far as the search process, he said. “The league does not get involved with individual decisions about personnel, at all,” Wright said.

Wright said it’s difficult to know how many people will apply for the city manager’s position.

Roberson said he expects from 50 to 75 people to submit applications, but that number could go as high as 100, which happened several years ago when the council was seeking a new city manager and hired Josh Kay. Alligood replaced Kay a little more than two years ago.

The five people who win the City Council seats in the November election likely will interview from three to five candidates sometime after the election and before taking office in December, Roberson said in August.





About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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