Council narrows city manager search

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lewisburg's City Council this week pared down the number of applicants for the job of city manager from 27 to 11, including three local applicants.

Those local applicants are Lewis Trigg Cathey, Jeffery Allen England and David Patrick Orr.

Councilmen selected their top 10 applicants, or some similar number of those whose resumes impressed them, and openly announced names during a special called workshop and voting session on Tuesday when City Recorder-Treasurer Connie Edde listed them on a broadsheet of paper clipped to an easel facing their table.

Applicants with only one councilman's endorsement were dropped from consideration, as were those who did not meet the strict interpretation of criteria set forth in the help wanted advertisement for a city manager to succeed Eddie Fuller who retired five weeks ago.

One out-of-town applicant sought a salary greater than councilmen felt was appropriate and so his application was discarded.

Marshall County Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas' application was also dropped from consideration because his bachelor of science degree is in animal science and not public administration, although he has administrative experience with the county.

Thomas was on three of the five councilmen's list of applicants who should survive the first cut. Three other applicants had three endorsements. Two had four. None had five.

Councilman Ronald McRady sought a decision on whether the council would abide by its criteria and the vote to do so was 4-1 with Councilman Hershel Davis voting no.

McRady and Councilmen Quinn Brandon Stewart, Odie Whitehead Jr. and Robin Minor voted yes. All expressed similar feelings about the decision. They didn't like voting that way, but felt obliged to because making an exception could leave the city exposed to a lawsuit over how the hiring process was conducted.

"That ain't right," Mayor Barbara Woods told Thomas who attended Tuesday's meeting and previous sessions on this subject and others.

"I'm fine," Thomas said Thursday morning about the decision that prompted extensive debate. "Obviously, there was a lot of contention over my application. If I had been the one who was picked there would have been more contention, so I guess it worked out better for the city the way it did."

Thomas' cooperation with the city and his county service during difficult circumstances regarding Cedar Ridge Landfill are well documented.

"I'm going to continue to work with the city and I'm going to live here the rest of my life," Thomas said.