On Wednesday (9/11/19), a press release was sent out stating that Doraville’s city manager, Regina Williams-Gates, is resigning at the end of this year. This is not necessarily a surprise. When she started working for the city a few years ago, it was always clear that Regina was going to be a care-taker city manager. She was very up-front about her plans to go back into retirement after she had spent a few years with the city. Despite knowing this, there have been no preparations for succession planning at city hall. Now the city is in a position where some major decisions will need to be made prior to the start of the year.
The press release stated that our current mayor and council are going to start a search process for a new city manager. Here are some of my initial thoughts:
- I’m very concerned about the timing of this search – and especially the selection process. I think that it will be hard to attract strong city manager candidates to a city where 5 out of 7 seats on the governing body could turn over by January.
- If the mayor and council decide to push through a hiring decision before January, then not every community in the city will have adequate representation in this process. When I made the decision to run for mayor, I was forced by state law to give up my seat on city council. This leaves District 2 with only one council member to advocate for the neighborhood’s interests.
- I think it’s problematic for the current mayor and council to choose a new city manager in 2019, because the people whose terms expire this year may have different priorities than whoever ends up in those positions in 2020.
I would like to see the current mayor and council select an interim city manager who would be able to step in at least for the first 3 to 6 months of next year. This would give any new elected officials enough time to review submissions and evaluate candidates. It would also give the potential city managers enough time to understand what kind of situation they’d be stepping into in Doraville – including the personalities and priorities of the governing body.