Doraville has a City Manager form of government. This means that the city council sets policy, passes ordinances, approves the budget, and develops the overall vision of the city. Rather than having the mayor or council manage day-to-day staff and operations, the council hires a city manager who oversees all administrative operations and implements the policies of the council. The City Manager is arguably the single most important job in the city.
When the council met on January 16th, Doraville had been without a permanent city manager since May. We did have an extremely qualified interim city manager – Regina Williams-Gates – whose resume included long-term stints at San Jose, California and Norfolk, Virginia. The “interim” status, however meant that she wasn’t fully empowered to make some important hiring decisions or to do much more than stabilize day-to-day city operations. I had identified this as a problem during my campaign for office, and it continued to concern me after being sworn in.
I heard from some residents who thought the city should conduct a new job search to get candidates we could interview. I can only speak for myself, but I was against this approach because I felt like it would take too long and potentially add more instability for the people who work at city hall, The time for an extensive search was in the Summer, shortly after this position opened up. At this point, I felt that we already had a capable interim city manager who was interested in coming on as the permanent city manager. We need someone in the city manager position now so that person can start filling several other open positions immediately (Finance Director, Public Works Director, Parks Director, and Clerk among them).
For these reasons, I voted along with the rest of the council to extend an offer to Ms Gates to be our permanent City Manager – an offer I’m pleased to say she accepted. There is a lot of work to be done, but I think we have made one step forward toward making it all happen.