Lehigh County, Pennsylvania (population 349,497): Bill Hansell keeps landing in jobs no one elected him to, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t qualified to do them, according to The Morning Call. The new Lehigh County executive is a veteran of local government who vows to depoliticize the office during his short tenure, which will begin with his swearing-in Tuesday. His ascent, onlookers joke, makes him the Gerald Ford of local government. Hansell, a Democrat, was appointed a Lehigh County commissioner and later chose not to run for the seat. Less than a year later, on Aug. 8, the commissioners named him county executive to replace Don Cunningham, who resigned to run the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Ford famously became vice president and then president without benefit of the ballot box. That Hansell, who is 75 and declares himself an unapologetic New Deal liberal, managed to garner that appointment speaks to his ability to deliver despite the ideological rift between him and the board’s most conservative members. That may be his key strength. Vic Mazziotti, a member of the board’s conservative reform slate, was absolute in his opposition to Hansell because of that deep political divide. Over two weeks, Hansell flipped Mazziotti, who joined in on what would be a unanimous vote. Hansell said that in conversations with Mazziotti, he stressed their shared vision of how government should be run. For the next 16 months, Hansell pledges to be a manager, not a politician. Early in his career, Hansell was borough manager in Catasauqua and then South Whitehall Township manager. He’s served as business administrator for Allentown and worked for 20 years with the International City/County Management Association. Commissioners have praised him for his encyclopedic knowledge of local government rules, structure and obligations. He helped write Northampton County and Easton’s home rule charters. Hansell was raised by deeply Catholic, Great Depression-era parents. He attended the University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship based on merit and a disability — he has little vision in his left eye. His mother stayed home while his father worked three jobs, including as a firefighter for the security of a pension. In Mazziotti’s initial opposition to Hansell, he warned that the candidate’s philosophical positions are “diametrically opposed” to his and other members of the board, which is 7-2 Republican. As a commissioner, for example, Hansell voted for the 16 percent tax increase in the 2011 budget that energized the board’s new conservative slate to unseat commissioners who supported that plan. Rolling back that tax increase would be the centerpiece of their campaigns. Hansell, however, reassured Mazziotti that to the extent possible, “99.9 percent,” he would function as a county manager, not a politician. A manager doesn’t attempt to dominate the board or fight partisan battles, but rather serves at the pleasure of the board. Still, at least one observer says Mazziotti and other commissioners can take Hansell’s word that he will eschew politics for policy. Given Hansell’s short stint — he doesn’t intend to run for executive next fall — that’s the appropriate emphasis, said Commissioner Dan McCarthy. A Democrat, McCarthy also applied to be county executive. Until recently, you couldn’t tell a Democrat from a Republican on the Lehigh County board. Traditionally, county government is more about efficiently delivering services than partisan absolutism. As McCarthy points out, there’s really no Democratic or Republican way to run a prison or a coroner’s office. But Cunningham, a Democrat, said the fall election ushered in a board he described as the most politicized of his tenure. This board has butted heads with the administration over pass-through grants, bridges, staffing contracts and the reassessment. Hansell will take office in that context of conflict. That may assist him in brokering deals with the Republican commissioners and won’t elicit the same automatic responses from the Republicans that a more partisan Democrat might. There’s also a certain amount of loss in that, as a Democratic voice is muted. But if taken like a scoreboard, Democrats aren’t really handing it over to the Republicans, because Cunningham wasn’t winning many either. Commissioners rejected the pass-through grants, haven’t agreed to fix the Reading Road Bridge in Allentown, turned down the staffing agreements and overruled him on the reassessment. Hansell will present the budget his first day in office, but he said it’s a spending plan he can support. He said it doesn’t include a tax increase. Despite an expected push from the conservative slate to roll back taxes, Hansell said he stands by the 16 percent tax hike. That support, he said, is based on his belief that the tax rate could stand for several years and would give taxpayers some stability. If the board wants to make more sweeping changes to the budget, Hansell hopes they’ll wait till next year when he and freshmen members are more versed in the budget and have a chance to implement changes to the budget format. Hansell will introduce new performance measurement standards and at the board’s behest pursue a new system of priority-based budgeting, which could require county departments to rank their programs by singling out the 20 percent they consider of least priority. Mazziotti said a candidate’s willingness to explore priority-based budgeting was a factor in his choice for executive. After the vote, he said the board was hiring someone to manage the county, and Hansell is “head and shoulders” the most qualified. And if there are disagreements, he added, the Republican supermajority can overcome any divide.
Henderson, Nevada (population 257,729): When he was the general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, people could sometimes find Jacob Snow riding on buses to experience the public transit system firsthand, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. With his new position as Henderson city manager, his experiences as a Henderson resident will influence his leadership in the city and vice versa. Instead of bus rides, Snow might be found frequenting the recreation centers or even plopping down in an employee’s cubicle to get to know him – if he isn’t busy signing paperwork or attending meeting after meeting. As the city manager, Snow is responsible for directing city policy and strategic planning and overseeing all the departments and divisions. Snow’s story with Henderson didn’t begin in April with his appointment but with his parents in the early ’50s. Henderson had just been incorporated and didn’t have much of an appeal to the family, Snow said. Instead, they settled in Boulder City. Henderson was often the topic of discussion at the dinner table growing up, he said. After college, he and his wife moved back to Boulder City. Snow said his wife liked the way Henderson was developing and wanted to be part of the community. After high school, Snow went to Brigham Young University. Snow fell in love with the subject and pursued a bachelor’s degree. He went on to get his master’s in geography with an emphasis in urban planning. Snow started at the Clark County Department of Aviation, where he worked for 10 years. By the time he left, he was the assistant director and oversaw McCarran International Airport, the Henderson Executive Airport and the North Las Vegas Airport. Snow landed at the Regional Transportation Commission in 1999. He went on to help with projects such as the Las Vegas Beltway. Of all the projects Snow takes pride in, his favorite is the Henderson Spaghetti Bowl, which is the intersection between U.S. Highway 95 and the Las Vegas Beltway. Since his time at the Clark County Department of Aviation, Snow’s wife would point out how great it would be if he worked for the city of Henderson. After former city manager Mark Calhoun announced his retirement, Snow submitted his resume. He was hired in April. City Council members have said that Snow’s hiring has created a dream team of the city staff. Many of the council members knew and worked with Snow when he was with the transportation commission. Councilwoman Debra March began working with Snow when she was the vice chair for the Urban Land Institute. Snow was on the board. After she was appointed to the City Council, March joined the transportation commission board and continued to work alongside Snow. March added that Snow’s background will help the city continue finding creative solutions to problems. Adding to the pressure of a new job, Snow was tasked with finding a new chief of police after former chief Jutta Chambers retired. March was impressed by Snow’s ability to jump in. His search led to the recommendation of Patrick Moers, who was sworn in in July. A few months into the job, Snow said he is still learning. Snow believes the city is primed to emerge from rough economic times and begin redeveloping. As his wife originally suggested, Snow does ride his bicycle to work. And on occasion, he will even get back on a bus to take a ride.
Blount County, Alabama (population 57,322): The Blount County Commission voted 3 to 1 Tuesday morning to terminate Ralph Mitchell from the position of county administrator, following a 65-minute executive session, according to The Blount Countian. A hearing date of Sept. 6 was set in compliance with the employee manual to allow Mitchell to defend himself from charges or allegations.
Northglenn, Colorado (population 35,789): After four years with the city of Northglenn, city manager Bill Simmons is retiring, according to Our Colorado News. City Council unanimously approved by an 8-0 vote a retirement agreement for Simmons during its regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 13. Ward III Councilwoman Susan Clyne was absent. Simmon’s retirement is effective Dec. 31. He was hired by the city in November 2008. No council member commented on the retirement plans during the meeting. Simmons, however, thanked council for approving the agreement. Simmons will receive severance payments through May 3, 2013, totaling $57,000. He will also receive a lump-sum payment for any unused and accrued vacation time up to Dec. 31. As part of the agreement, Simmons will be available through May 3, 2013, to assist with any issues related to the transition of a new city manager. Mayor Joyce Downing said council wasn’t expecting the retirement. Simmons filled the vacancy left when former City Manager A.J. Krieger resigned. Krieger, who was hired in October 2006, left the city in May 2008.
Churchill County, Nevada (population 24,877): When it came to being selected Churchill County manager, the second time indeed did prove to be a charm for Eleanor Lockwood, according to the Lahontan Valley News. Lockwood’s 15 years of service in the Churchill County Planning Department was the deciding factor Monday morning when county commissioners selected her as the new county manager. Lockwood, who has been planning director since 2000, was bypassed when she applied for the county manager’s position in 2004. This time, she got the nod by a 3-0 vote in a decision over two other finalists, Dan Holler and Michael McMahon. Lockwood is due to take over in her new role on Sept. 4. She replaces Brad Goetsch, who resigned on May 3.
South Lake Tahoe, California (population 21,403): At the conclusion of Tuesday’s City Council closed session, the council unanimously voted and offered the full time permanent City Manager position to Nancy Kerry, according to KRNV. The terms of the two-and-a-half year contract are still being negotiated. Ms. Kerry has been with the City of South Lake Tahoe since 2008 working in various departments. She worked alongside the previous City Manager to develop a comprehensive Strategic Plan with meaningful performance measures later operationalized into an effective City Business Plan linking priorities to measurable outcomes throughout the organization. Ms. Kerry has 12 years in government and more than 15 years in private business started in Southern California. Prior to moving to Tahoe, she worked for the City of Solana Beach, San Diego County, San Diego Association of Governments and San Diego District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Kerry also has a background in the private sector as Vice President of her father’s manufacturing company for many years and providing private consulting services to organizations. Ms. Kerry earned her Bachelor’s Degree from San Diego State University where her GPA garnered a rare Summa Cum Laude with distinction award. She continued her education by earning a Master of Public Administration degree, also from SDSU, where her grades and participation were recognized when she was named the Outstanding Graduate Student of 2001 by the School of Public Administration.
Artesia, California (population 16,522): After serving the City of Artesia for more than 18 years, City Manager Maria Dadian says she plans to retire and will step down from her post in late October, according to the Cerritos-ArtesiaPatch. When asked about her decision, Dadian said it was simply the right time. Dadian, a California State Los Angeles graduate, has served the city since January 1994, when she was hired as the Assistant City Manager. She was appointed to City Manager in 2000, and has been the driving force, alongside the City Council, behind many of Artesia’s projects, including the redevelopment projects and other city improvement projects. Mayor John P. Lyon, who has worked with Dadian for most of her tenure, said her service to the community has been commendable and that Artesia won’t be the same without her. Prior to her work with the City of Artesia, Dadian began her career in municipal government working for the City of South El Monte in 1975. In March 1982, she accepted the position of Parks and Recreation Director with the City of Hawaiian Gardens, and after four years was promoted to Assistant to the City Administrator. After 11 years of continuous service with the city, she was named interim Executive Director of Hawaiian Gardens’ newly established non-profit organization called the Coalition for Youth Development. During her municipal career she has been contracted by both public entities and private businesses to organize and implement public safety and recreation programs. Dadian has not yet revealed what she plans to do after retirement. Her last day as City Manager is slated for Oct. 19. The City of Artesia will be entering into a transitional period, and during this time the City Council plans to provide considerations to selecting a new city manager. The City Council will convene on Monday, Aug. 27 to commence this work, according to the city.
Longmeadow, Massachusetts (population 15,784): The Select Board has chosen Bonnie L. Therrien to serve as Longmeadow’s new town manager, according to The Republican. The town is currently in negotiations with Therrien, who interviewed for the position on Aug. 15 and was one of five finalists. The board voted unanimously on Aug. 17 to select Therrien, the interim town manager in North Branford, Conn. During her interview Therrien described her management style as open, fair and objective. Therrien has more than 25 years of experience working with municipal government. She is the former town manager of Hebron and Wethersfield, Conn., served as the deputy city manager for Hartford, Conn., and most recently in North Branford. Therrien has a master’s degree in public administration and criminal justice from American International College. Asked about her communications plan for her staff and the public, Therrien said she meets with department heads twice a month and strongly believes in public forums and hearings to keep the public informed. Therrien said every year before residents vote on the budget she asks to be invited to their homes, where she meets with groups of 15 to 20 people and answers any questions they might have about the budget process. During the interviews the board said it would offer the candidate a salary between $105,000 and $115,00, a reduction from the original $115,000 to $135,000 range. This is the second attempt to hire a town manager in the past month. The town originally entered into contract negotiations with Thomas Guerino, the town administrator in Bourne, but they could not come to an agreement on the contract. Therrien was selected from an original list of 33 applicants narrowed down by the Collins Center for Public Management.
Warren, Maine (population 8,589): Longtime Town Manager Grant Watmough will be stepping down as town manager after nearly 17 years, according to the Bangor Daily News. Watmough turned in his letter of resignation to selectmen at their Wednesday night meeting. He will continue on through Nov. 26. He declined to comment on his reasons for retiring this year beyond what was stated in the letter. Watmough has been town manager since January 1996, succeeding Christine Savage. He served four additional years previously as the town’s code enforcement officer. Doug Pope, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Watmough’s announcement will accelerate the search for a new manager. He said Watmough had planned on retiring next summer but decided he would begin retirement earlier. Watmough was reappointed to his post in April for another year, but by a close vote by selectmen. The vote was 3-2 with the two members opposed to his reappointment saying in April that the town needed to go in a new direction and that some long-term problems have not been addressed. The majority of selectmen, however, voiced support for Watmough and cited his service to the community. Pope said selectmen are considering hiring a company that specializes in recruitment of municipal managers. Watmough also is serving as code enforcement officer following the resignation of the code officer earlier this year.
Aransas Pass, Texas (population 8,204): The city council accepted City Manager Reggie Winters resignation during executive session, according to The Aransas Pass Progress. Winters submitted his letter of resignation last Friday and the affectivity [sic] is immediate. In accordance with his contract, Winters will continue to be paid through September 19, 2012. According to City Secretary Yvonne Stonebraker, an interim city manager is expected to be named next week.
Aberdeen, Mississippi (population 5,612): Greenwood Springs resident Michael P. King has been named the new Monroe County administrator, according to the Monroe Journal.
King ran his own business as a residential contractor for eight years. Before that he was an industrial engineer with Glenn Enterprises. King has a degree from Mississippi State in industrial technology. He lives in Greenwood Springs with his wife and two sons.
Russell, Kansas (population 4,506): At Tuesday’s Russell City Council meeting, City Manager Ralph Wise announced his resignation from the office effective October 1, 2012, according to KRSL. Wise will continue his current duties until that date, and official word has not been given on an interim or permanent replacement.
Soldotna, Alaska (population (4,163): The council offered Mark Dixson, of Soldotna, a position as city manager, added the city manager’s position back into the state’s Public Employee’s Retirements System (PERS), according to the Peninsula Clarion. Larry Semmens, current city manager, said there was about a week of overlap planned between his exit and Dixson’s entrance Oct. 1 but that he planned to leave the city ahead of his Oct. 31 final date. Semmens, who technically retired last year, continued to work for the city after the council decided to cut the position of city manager from the PERS system and hire him as a contract employee. At the time, Semmens said the move saved the city money as it was no longer liable for his family’s medical costs, just his. Dixson, however, wanted to earn PERS credit, so the council agreed to put the position back into the system in a move Semmens said would again save the city money. When the position is out of PERS, Semmens said the city still pays 24.16 percent of the city manager’s salary into the system in what’s known as unfunded liability, essentially back payments into the system as it is currently underfunded. When Dixson starts, the city’s share will be reduced to 22% of his salary, he said. Dixson’s starting salary will be $120,000 a year and it will go up in $5,000 increments for the next two years. At that time it will then be determined by the council as part of its annual budget process, according to city’s employment offer.
Hiram, Georgia (population 3,546): Hiram City Council approved the hiring of Robbie Rokovitz as city manager at a special called meeting earlier this week, according to Neighborhood Newspapers. Rokovitz was chosen from six candidates, whose names were announced by the council earlier this month. Rokovitz comes from the city of Cedartown, where he served as city manager. The vote was unanimous, and Mayor Doris Devey said she thought Rokovitz would “bring a lot to the city of Hiram.” Rokovitz has accepted the position and will be sworn in as city manager Sept. 4, according to Devey. The city manager started his career in Alpharetta, where he served as a police officer. He has also worked at Lanier Technical College, where he taught criminal justice classes, served as a financial manager with Gwinnett County, was city manager for the city of Holly Springs and also served as assistant city administrator at the city of Alpharetta before working in Cedartown. Rokovitz will replace interim City Manager Billy Beckett, who has worked at the city of Hiram since early June.
Overton, Texas (population 2,554): Overton City Council, in a special meeting Thursday with Mayor John Welch, chose its former city manager Joe Cantu to return to the post, according to the Kilgore News Herald. In a telephone exchange with Acting City Manager Deana McCasland, Friday morning, Cantu stated he would accept the job. Assembled at City Hall, Welch and Councilmen Pat Beets, Philip Cox, C. R. Evans Jr. and John Posey went into executive session for about 15 minutes, returned to the meeting chamber and Welch nominated Cantu for city manager. Cox motioned for approval of Cantu and Evans seconded. All four members next voted in favor. Councilman Jimmy Jennings was absent. The other witnesses were McCasland, as city secretary, and Police Chief Clyde Carter. Cantu was Overton city manager for less than two years in the mid-1990s. He was also CM at Shenandoah, Peñitas and Elsa – all in Texas. Originally from McAllen, he studied at University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg. Cantu has 43 years in law enforcement is now a patrol officer for the La Joya Police Department. He is married and has two grown daughters.
Hampton Falls, New Hampshire (population 2,236): Town Administrator Eric N. Small is retiring from the town of Hampton Falls, according to SeaCoastOnline. The public is invited to join the Board of Selectmen and town employees at the Hampton Falls Town Hall, 1 Drinkwater Road, for an open house Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 1 to 5:30 p.m., to thank Small for his service to the town of Hampton Falls over the past 26 years. Small, a Seabrook resident, will retire effective Aug. 31. .
Swansboro, North Carolina (population 1,902): The new manager for the Town of Swansboro is new to town but not to the area, according to The Jacksonville Daily News. David Harvell, who is currently serving as assistant city manager in Havelock, has been named Swansboro’s new manager by a unanimous vote of the Board of Commissioners. The Board of Commissioners voted to hire Harvell Tuesday night, concluding a five-month search to fill the position vacated in March by former Manager Pat Thomas, who took a job as city manager in Southport. Retired local government manager Tommy Combs has served as interim manager for the town and guided the town board in its search for a replacement manager. Mayor Scott Chadwick said the process was a thorough one as the board reviewed all 98 applicants, narrowed the field to 30 or so and then reviewed them further to get down to the 10 finalists they interviewed. Chadwick thanked Combs and Town Clerk Paula Webb for the work they put into assisting with the process and commended commissioners for their commitment to the process. Chadwick said Harvell stood out among a strong field of candidates and described Harvell as “very personable and professional” and able to make a quick transition to his new duties thanks to his familiarity with the area and the town. His experience also includes time as town manager in Atlantic Beach. He resides in Carteret County in nearby Pine Knoll Shores. Harvell said he’ll bring with him a knowledge of the area and the region and his first task will be to get to know the community at the local level. And he’s impressed with what he already knows about the small seaport town and its history. Harvell is to begin work on or before Sept. 17. He will receive an annual salary of $78,000, as well as a monthly allowance of $100 for cell phone and $450 for vehicle. Commissioner Junior Freeman said that from their review of the applications, Harvell has the experience and background the town is looking for. Harvell’s experience in Eastern North Carolina impressed Commissioner Jim Allen. While several of the commissioners took part in the previous manager search, it was a new experience for the others. Philpott said there was also full participation of the board, with every commissioner having the opportunity to review all the applications. Commissioner Gery Boucher said that in his previous job as dean of Craven Community College’s Havelock campus he got to observe Harvell’s ability to communicate with a diverse population of people. And during the interview process, Harvell showed he had gotten to know the town.
New Buffalo, Michigan (population 1,883): Mayor Rusty Geisler’s days on New Buffalo’s City Council may be numbered, but only because he’s been offered the job of City Manager, according to The Harbor County News. It happened during the regular monthly Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, during a discussion of what course of action to take following the unexpected resignation of City Manager Mike Mitchell on Aug. 10. Council member Warren Peterson started the discussion by stating that it was important to replace Mitchell as soon as possible. He also noted that one of the problems that has plagued past city managers in the current economy is the difficulty they have relocating here. Often, they have a hard time selling the homes they are living in when they are offered (and accept) the job here, he said. Council member Susan Maroko suggested taking advantage of the resources available through the Michigan Municipal League, which offers free assistance finding both interim and permanent employees for positions in city government. That’s when Council member Ray Lawson spoke up to suggest what he thought was a better idea: Offer the job to Mayor Geisler. Council member Migs Murray concurred, and after reminding all present that Geisler grew up in the city, knows just about everything there is to know about the city and on that basis alone is the likely best choice for the city, it was she who made the motion to do precisely that. The offer was contingent upon Geisler’s acceptance of a “letter of understanding” (essentially, the terms of his employment), which had yet to be written, as well as his resignation from the City Council if he should accept the city manager’s position. During continuing discussions preceding the vote, Maroko said she had “no problem” with Geisler serving as interim city manager, but it was her opinion that the city’s residents deserve what she called “a professional search” for a qualified replacement. Maroko also pointed out that, just as Assistant to the City Manager Ryan Fellows had previously been disqualified from seeking the city manager’s job because he didn’t have a masters degree, Mayor Geisler doesn’t meet all of the qualifications either. That didn’t matter a whit to Lawson, who ventured that Geisler “is probably a better choice than all the past city managers we’ve had.” When it came to a vote, the motion passed 3 to 1, with Maroko voting no and Geisler abstaining after recusing himself from the entire discussion. Acting in her role as mayor pro tem, Murray proposed holding a special meeting as soon as possible to prepare the letter of understanding. The meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at City Hall. As advised by City Attorney Harold Schuitmaker, Geisler stated for the record that, if he finds the terms of the letter of understanding to be acceptable, he will promptly submit his resignation from the council. After the meeting, Geisler said he had no idea that he was going to be offered the city manager’s position, and he expressed gratitude for the votes of confidence that his colleagues delivered on his behalf.