Transitions: San Diego County, CA; Henrico County, VA; Greenville, NC and more

Picture of Walt Ekard

Walt Ekard

San Diego County, California (population 1,301,617): The longtime chief administrative officer for San Diego County announced Wednesday that he will step down on Dec. 1. Walt Ekard made the announcement during the afternoon session of the Board of Supervisors meeting. Ekard said he is not retiring, but will seek other challenges. He has led the county government since 1999, making him the longest-serving person in the position in modern times. Board Chairman Ron Roberts said Ekard helped make the county one of the best managed local governments in the country. Ekard, whose wife and three daughters were in attendance, said he was privileged to have led the county staff. The chief administrative officer oversees 40 departments, manages around 15,000 employees and implements directives by the supervisors. No successor was immediately announced, but the board was expected to go into closed session later Wednesday to discuss how to proceed.

Henrico County, Virginia (population 306,935): At a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday evening, John Vithoulkas was appointed as the new county manager of Henrico County, according to WRIC. Vithoulkas, who has been an employee of Henrico County since 1997, will succeed Virgil R. Hazelett, who served in the county manager position for 20 years. Vithoulkas will begin his term in January 2013. The Henrico County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Vithoulkas into the position, and explain what it entails: “As county manager, Vithoulkas will serve as Henrico’s chief administrative officer, responsible for implementing policies established by the Board of Supervisors and for overseeing the daily operations of the county and more than 35 agencies with approximately 4,000 general government employees. Duties include preparation and oversight of the county’s annual budget, which tops $1 billion in operating and capital expenditures for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and preparation of the county’s annual legislative program before the Virginia General Assembly.” Vithoulkas has served in several positions during his tenure at Henrico County, including budget analyst, Acting Director of Finance, deputy county manager, and special economic advisor. Vithoulkas’ contributions to Henrico County are numerous: during the recession, Vithoulkas introduced policies which allowed the county to balance its budget, even while absorbing revenue declines of more than $92 million. He also lead an effort which established Henrico, VA as an official mailing address with the U.S. Postal Service, garnering $5 million annually in tax revenues previously misdirected to other localities. Vithoulkas is a native of Greece, and immigrated to Virginia as an infant. He was educated in Henrico County Public Schools, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989. He also received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1992. He is a member of numerous organizations within the metro Richmond area, including Virginia Local Government Manager’s Association and the Richmond Association of Business Economists.

Greenville, North Carolina (population 84,554): For the first time since the resignation of Wayne Bowers left Greenville without a city manager, that critical post will again be filled as Barbara Lipscomb begins work, according to The Reflector. The new city manager comes to this community with a host of experience in several cities, strong recommendations and the unanimous approval of a rarely united City Council. This is a unique community, one anchored by a large state university, a tremendous health care infrastructure and a population eager for Greenville to fulfill its tremendous opportunity for growth and commerce. However, some persistent ills — among them crime, planning and a need for more diverse economic development options — continue to hold it back and demand Lipscomb’s concerted attention in her new post. It came as a surprise to many observers when Bowers used the occasion of the City Council’s annual planning retreat to announce his intention to resign, effective at the end of February. Though he had submitted retirement papers six months prior, the former manager’s decision became public only one week after the departure for Greenville Police Chief William Anderson. That change at the top promised a significant shift in the identities of those holding key posts in city leadership. But, if handled correctly, that potential crisis could instead represent a tremendous opportunity for Greenville to inject new ideas and fresh perspective into the process that guides decision making. The City Council moved swiftly to identify a new manager and ultimately selected Lipscomb, the former manager of Casselberry, Fla., to lead city staff. Her management experience in several Florida cities coupled with a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill education won her unanimous support from an oft-divided council. For Greenville, so lengthy a resume must translate into action quickly if Lipscomb’s term is to be judged a success. Despite its many positive attributes, the city still has its faults, and many will be accentuated by the return of East Carolina University’s student population. The new manager will need to hire a police chief and improve public safety. Growth and planning issues are a constant concern and problems are poised to worsen with the council’s recent decision to allow greater population density in already crowded neighborhoods. And other worries — parks and recreation, traffic, infrastrucutre, etc. — will command attention as well. Libscomb has a tall order ahead, but she inherits a city eager to fill its expectations. She should be welcomed with best wishes for luck in her new job.

Bryan, Texas (population 76,201): After more than a year of holding the job in the interim, Kean Register has been named city manager of Bryan, according to The Bryan College Station Eagle. The unanimous decision was made at Tuesday’s meeting of the Bryan City Council. Register was appointed interim city manager in 2010, following the resignation of David Watkins. At the time he was hired, the council said it was choosing him because he didn’t want the permanent job. Register has spent most of his career in electric utilities and indicated that he wanted to return to that job soon. Prior to his appointment as interim city manager, he was a group manager at Bryan Texas Utilities. He said he hoped to eventually be the general manager of BTU, which is owned by the city. But now, he is the general manager’s boss. During Register’s tenure as interim city manager, the city took a larger role in the oversight of BTU and clarified that the general manager reports to the city manager. Meanwhile, Register worked to make cuts in staffing and expenditures during difficult economic times. Last year, his staff reduced $2.1 million from its general operations. Much of that came from 20 job cuts, including the outsourcing of some janitorial and landscaping work. As Register’s tenure lengthened, council members began saying that they would like him to make the job permanent. Eventually, Register agreed. Register said he initially wasn’t interested in the job because of the quick turnover at the city manager position. In his 11 years at the city, four people have held the job, he said. But he has grown accustomed to the staff and enjoyed working with the council, he said, so he changed his mind. Salary information for Register wasn’t immediately available Tuesday night.

Morgan Hill, California (population 37,882): Morgan Hill city manager Ed Tewes announced to City Hall employees Monday that he will resign as of Dec. 28, according to the Morgan Hill Times. Tewes, 61, has been the city manager of Morgan Hill for 13 years. He sent a private letter to the five City Council members Friday notifying them of his intent to resign, and made the decision public Monday with an e-mail to all city employees.

Belmont, Massachusetts (population 24,729): After 10 months of searching, the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved an employment contract with David Kale to become Belmont’s Town Administrator at its Wednesday night meeting, Aug. 16, according to the BelmontPatch. Details of the contract, including salary, other compensation and duties, will be released once Kale agrees to the terms of the document. While the contract is not yet signed, Mark Paolillo, chairman of the Board, did say that Kale’s first official day in Belmont will be Monday, Aug. 20. Kale, Cambridge’s budget director and deputy finance director since 2003, was chosen in June by the Board to replace Thomas Younger who resigned in October of last year.

New Kent County, Virginia (population 18,429): New Kent County has lost its county administrator, but county officials aren’t saying why, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. G. Cabell Lawton IV resigned July 23, a little more than two years after taking the job as administrator. Previously, he had served as county administrator in Fluvanna County. The Board of Supervisors appointed Deputy County Administrator Rodney A. Hathaway as acting administrator on July 25, when the board formally accepted Lawton’s resignation. Hathaway, a Quinton native and eight-year veteran of county government, said Wednesday that he could not comment on Lawton’s resignation because it occurred in a closed session of the board that he did not attend. Supervisors C. Thomas Tiller Jr. and Ron Stiers said Lawton gave no reason for the resignation and they declined to discuss it further. In addition to deputy administrator, Hathaway has been New Kent’s planning manager and economic development director.

Holden, Massachusetts (population 17,346): Town Manager Nancy Galkowski last night announced that she will not seek consideration for a new contract, according to the Telegram. The Board of Selectmen was required to notify Ms. Galkowski before July 31, six months before the end of her three-year contract, whether it would extend her contract. The board met in executive session several times with the stated aim of discussing contract negotiations, but never entered into negotiations with Ms. Galkowski. Board of Selectmen Chairman Anthony Renzoni said town counsel is reviewing when the minutes of those meetings will be released. The board last night postponed a decision on how to proceed with the impending vacancy in the position. Ms. Galkowski made public a July 27 letter removing herself from consideration for contract renewal. Ms. Galkowski, whose contract is up in January, can leave at any time. The letter also said Ms. Galkowski was disappointed not to continue to lead the community, though she listed several accomplishments with pride, including several efficiencies she implemented. Mr. Renzoni thanked Ms. Galkowski and lauded her financial knowledge, which resulted in bringing the town budget in under the constraints the board indicated. Ms. Galkowski, a longtime Holden resident, was the assistant town manager in Arlington when she applied for the Holden position after a dispute over his contract resulted in the departure of Town Manager Brian Bullock. Selectman Mark Ferguson immediately requested that the board avoid the cost and time involved in a lengthy search and appoint assistant town manager Jacquelyn Kelly as the town manager. Ms. Kelly was one of the three finalists when Ms. Galkowski was chosen in 2008 and took office in January 2009, and continued as assistant town manager after the Board of Selectmen made her its second choice. Ms. Kelly has been assistant town manager for 13 years, and was also assistant light department manager for part of that time when the town manager position was joined with the light department manager position. Those positions were separated in 2008. Ms. Kelly also worked for the Planning Department for two years before becoming assistant town manager. Selectman James Jumonville agreed with Mr. Ferguson, arguing to save the town the expense that was incurred in previous searches, to hire a contractor to screen candidates. Mr. Ferguson also argued that, by appointing Ms. Kelly, the town would save the money spent on the assistant town manager position as Ms. Kelley could handle both. Mr. Renzoni cautioned that the town’s strong town manager form of government left the staffing decisions to the town manager, and that the Board of Selectmen was not in the business of changing the form of town government. Mr. Renzoni and Selectman Robert Lavigne argued that, with Ms. Kelly already on board, the town would not be without leadership should Ms. Galkowski leave before a decision about the next town manager is made. The board agreed to table the decision on how to proceed with the selection of a new town manager until the next meeting Sept. 4.

Dukes County, Massachusetts (population 16,535): Martina Thornton was sworn in as the new county manager on Wednesday evening, according to the Vineyard Gazette. Mrs. Thornton, who served as executive assistant to the county manager for four years, said she is pleased with the contract she negotiated with the seven-member elected commission last week in executive session. The terms of Mrs. Thornton’s contract include an annual salary of $67,709. Dukes County government has come under scrutiny in the last few years as county government has gradually been taken over by the state. But Mrs. Thornton defends the niche of county government. Mrs. Thornton, 36, a Czech Republic native, has a law degree from the University of Prague. Before moving to the Island in 2000, she worked for the Department of Finance in Prague. On-Island she worked as a paralegal for two law offices in Edgartown, and ran her own business, bookkeeping and preparing taxes for small businesses for several years. She has worked as a treasurer and clerk for Island Fuel since 2007. After spending summers here for a few years, Mrs. Thornton moved to the Island in 2001 to marry her husband. They have two children, both boys. She will hire an assistant to replace herself, but said she plans to modify the job description to make it more of a clerical position, with less responsibility in some areas. In her new post, she will work closely with county treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders and county commission chairman Melinda Loberg, as well as Sean Flynn, manager of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, and the other county and airport commissioners. She described her working relationship with the seven-member county commission as “very good.” The county commissioners have begun their discussion of priorities for Mrs. Thornton’s term. Immediate priorities include reviewing and revising the 2013 budget, as well as working with the six Island towns to create memorandums of understandings for county programs including the Integrated Pest Management program and the Vineyard Health Care Access Program. She also plans to oversee a grant-writing initiative on behalf of the county and the towns, in accordance with the county commissioners’ stated expectations during the county manager search process. In fiscal year 2014, pest management and health care access, regional programs managed by the county, will be financed exclusively by the towns. Mrs. Thornton is charged with meeting with town government leaders to figure out how they want the programs to be managed. Russell Smith, Mrs. Thornton’s predecessor, resigned from the position May 1. The search for the new county manager, which began in mid-April, was delayed when the initial pick for the position, New Hampshire attorney Katherine Rogers, declined the offer in early July, citing personal health reasons. Nineteen people applied for the position last spring.

Green River, Wyoming (population 12,515): The City of Green River will have a full-time city administrator starting Sept. 24, according to The Green River Star. On Monday, the city released a statement announcing that Martin Black of Sarasota, Fla., will take the position. According to his LinkedIn profile, he currently is the senior practice builder – project manager for Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. He also lists himself as a consultant. He previously served as the deputy city manager and city manager in Venice, Fla. He also worked as a community services manager in Longboart Key, Fla., and the utilities support manager and zoning administrator in Tallahassee, Fla. Councilman Gary Killpack said he believes Black will bring a total package in being able to deal with residents personably while handing other administrative aspects of the position. Killpack described Black as vary likable and proactive while being very direct.

Cocoa Beach, Florida (population 11,231): A government administrator from another Florida beachfront tourist town will take over as city manager this fall, according to Florida Today. Bob Majka of Panama City, who works as assistant county manager of Bay County, was picked Monday from a field of 124 applicants to succeed longtime Cocoa Beach City Manager Chuck Billias, who is retiring. Majka, who turned 42 last week, has racked up 23 years of service with Panhandle government. Hired as a Panama City firefighter-EMT in 1989, he advanced to Bay County hazardous materials program manager in 1993, emergency management director in 1995, chief of emergency services in 1998 and assistant county manager in 2006. During a special meeting Monday afternoon — after only 3 minutes of discussion — the Cocoa Beach City Commission unanimously picked Majka over three other finalists. Billias is retiring after serving at Cocoa Beach City Hall in various capacities since 1971. He earns $113,797 per year. Beeler will now negotiate salary, pension, moving allowance and other details of a proposed employment contract with Majka. Participants will include City Attorney Skip Fowler and Colin Baenziger, who heads the Wellington firm that conducted the job search. Baenziger estimated it might take two weeks to negotiate a deal. Commissioners will then vote on the contract. Beeler said he hopes Majka starts work by October. The quartet of finalists mingled during a business-casual reception Friday night at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, then attended 30-minute interviews Saturday and Sunday. Majka said it will be “bittersweet” to leave Bay County, but he seeks professional advancement. His girlfriend is originally from Brevard County and has relatives on the Space Coast. His father attended Brevard Engineering College, the predecessor of Florida Tech, during the 1960s.

St. Albans, Vermont (population 6,392): The town of St. Albans needs a new manager, according to WCAX. Gerry Myers is leaving his post to take a job in the private sector. He’ll be leaving at the end of September.

Brunswick, Maryland (population 5,870): Brunswick City Administrator Rick Weldon has resigned, making him the second city official to do so in the wake of last week’s mayoral and city council election, according to The Frederick News-Post. Weldon said Monday he has diverging views on a variety of issues, including the role of government, with Mayor-elect Karin Tome. He said he did not want to potentially make Tome’s job more difficult by going into detail. Tome takes office today. Weldon officially resigned Friday. He said he planned to put in his last day Aug. 24, though he told Tome he would be willing to stay on longer, albeit not indefinitely, while a replacement is found. The decision has disappointed some residents and city officials, including Tome. She said she had a sense Weldon might resign after speaking with him several weeks ago about the issue. During her door-to-door campaigning, many residents asked her if Weldon planned to stay on, she said. Tome said Weldon was a good mediator and will be missed. Rumors spread online and elsewhere that Tome was seeking former Frederick County Commissioner Kai Hagen to fill the slot, but they are false, she said. No definite plans for a replacement have been made, she said. Tome said there will likely be a few local candidates for the job, and she believes the city should also open up the search outside of Brunswick. Weldon has been the city administrator since January 2011, his second time in the position, he said. He also worked as the Brunswick city administrator from 1994 to 1999. Before his most recent stint in Brunswick, Weldon spent a year as Frederick City Mayor Randy McClement’s executive assistant. He represented portions of Frederick and Washington counties in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2003 to 2009, when he left a year early in his last term to work for McClement. From 2001 to 2003, Weldon served as Frederick County commissioner. Apart from his legislative duties, he worked as the executive director of the United Way of Frederick from 2008 to 2009. Although he did not specify, Weldon said plans for his future could include a role outside politics. He said he would also be interested in becoming a county executive, though he didn’t believe a county executive form of government would be approved by Frederick County voters in November. Councilwoman Angel White, who was re-elected to a four-year term last week, said she believed Weldon had the best interest of the city at heart. White said Weldon was a good person with a strong work ethic. She said she understood that some residents will be disappointed. Last Wednesday, city Councilman Tom Smith also stepped down, two years early from his position to spend more time with his family, he said. He also said Tome’s election played a role in his decision. Carroll Jones, who was packing his belongings Monday during his last day in office as Brunswick’s mayor, said Weldon brought a lot of knowledge, as well as a long list of contacts, to his position. Melanie DiPasquale, owner of Beans in the Belfry, said Weldon’s decision came as a surprise. She said she’s always had an excellent working relationship with Weldon. Weldon has been a regular customer at the restaurant, which is located within a block of City Hall, she said.

Broken Bow, Nebraska (population 3,559): Mayor Cecil Burt received a resignation letter from City Administrator Tony Tolstedt, according to the Kearney Hub. Tolstedt told the Hub he has accepted a job as city administrator in Douglas, Wyo., and begins there on Sept. 17. Until then, he will remain on staff at Broken Bow.

Cherryvale, Kansas (population 2,367): Cherokee County Attorney John Bullard has his post election plans set, according to the Cherokee County News-Advocate. Bullard, who decided not to run for a second term, will be the new Cherryvale city manager. Indeed, he’s already started. Depending upon the results of the Nov. 6 general election, either Republican Nathan Coleman, or Democrat Melanie Bingham will be the new county attorney come January. Bingham was recently hired to be special assistant county attorney by Bullard to take up some of the slack caused by his split duties. In a press release Bingham said she was looking forward to working in the office. Bullard said the Cherryvale job is a good fit for him. Bullard said he is excited about his new job, but is sad to leave Columbus.

Jefferson, Texas (population 2,106): Jefferson’s city administrator Shawn Farrell turned in his resignation — again — effective Monday morning — nearly four months after he tried to resign in March, according to The Marshall News Messenger. During that time, Mayor Jeff Fratangelo asked Farrell during a public meeting to reconsider his decision, and at least stay until the end of his contract, Sept. 5. Farrell agreed at the time, but decided on Monday that it was time to leave. Although the resignation comes a month earlier than expected, Ward 3 Alderman Carey Heaster said the city is in a good position and have already received applications in lieu of Farrell’s earlier resignation. The Jefferson City Council has been advertising for the position, posting it on various websites for a while now. Heaster noted that they have received about a dozen applications so far. He said the council is not in a rush to replace Farrell, however. Since his initial resignation, Farrell has been tight-lipped regarding his decision to leave. Farrell was hired last September, following the resignation of former city administrator Tony Williams who verbally resigned last January, a day after the council denied his recommendation to fire City Secretary Doris Hines. Williams had served in that capacity for the city for only 10 months. Mayor Fratangelo served dual roles as both mayor and city administrator until Farrell was hired.

New Buffalo, Michigan (population 1,883): After less than 18 months on the job, Michael “Mitch” Mitchell has resigned from his position as the city manager of New Buffalo, according to The Harbor County News. New Buffalo Mayor Rusty Geisler made the announcement shortly after he and three members of the New Buffalo City Council (council member Susan Maroko was absent) reconvened an Aug. 10 special meeting at City Hall following a brief closed-session discussion regarding the city manager in what was simply described as a “personnel” matter on the agenda. It was then that Mayor Geisler read aloud Mitchell’s letter of resignation, which simply stated that, “I, Michael D. Mitchell, hereby resign effective at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10.” The letter was dated Aug. 9. Mitchell’s resignation letter offered no clues as to the reason for his decision, which the mayor said was “unexpected.” Subsequent attempts to reach Mitchell by phone were unsuccessful. Asked, after the special meeting, if there were any job-related issues with the city manager that might have led to his voluntary departure, Geisler stated that, in his opinion, Mitchell had been doing “a good job.” Several weeks earlier, however, during a July 17 meeting of the council, Geisler had commented that he was “truly disappointed” by the city manager’s failure to meet a Pokagon Fund grant application deadline that could have provided $31,000 for the purchase of new turnout gear for the city’s Fire Department.(Mitchell is said to have missed the deadline by more than a month.) The mayor quickly moved on to address other matters that day. It was the first time since Mitchell’s hiring last year that the mayor had voiced dissatisfaction with something the city manager had done — or, in that case, had not done — at a City Council meeting. After returning from their closed-session meeting on Aug. 10, the council voted unanimousy (4-0) to accept Mitchell’s resignation, but also to continue his health and dental insurance until the end of the year or until he finds another job, whichever comes first. Mayor Geisler said that the search for a new city manager will probably begin at the next regular meeting of the City Council, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Hallsville, Missouri (population 1,478): Hallsville’s controversial city administrator is out of a job after city leaders voted Monday night to eliminate the position, according to KRCG. Joe Smith was told Tuesday this morning that it was his last day. Smith then resigned. The move came in a closed door meeting Monday night. With three yes votes and one city alderman abstaining the position was eliminated to save the city money. Aldermen Mickey Nichols, Hugh Carney and Darren Maher voted in favor of getting rid of the position, Alderman Carl Daly abstained. Mayor Cheri Reisch said the move will save Smith’s salary and benefits totaling around $60,000. She said the money is needed for the city’s general fund to balance the budget. That fund pays the salaries of the city’s seven other full-time employees and several part time ones. Smith has been under fire since firing Reisch last December. Reisch had served 30-years as Hallsville City Clerk. She ran for mayor and won last April. Reisch did not get to vote during the closed meeting, the mayor’s vote only breaks ties. She says the move to remove Smith was not about her, but was in the best interest of the city. The city budget, minus the administrator position will now be up for vote during the next aldermans’ meeting August 27th.

La Grange, Missouri (population 931): Mayor Ronnie Powers of LaGrange said Wednesday neither City Administrator Mark Campbell or police officer Jason Powell knew they were going to be relieved of their duties before Monday night’s City Council meeting, according to the Quincy Herald-Whig. Campbell and Powell were relieved of their duties in a decision made by the council, Powers said. Powers, who has been mayor since 2009 and a North Ward councilman before that, said economics played no factor in the dismissals. Powers also said the dismissals were immediate. Attempts to reach Campbell and Powell were unsuccessful. Campbell had been city administrator since June 2004. Campbell succeeded Drew Bontrager, who was LaGange’s first city administrator.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s