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Posted: January 29, 2013 7:17 p.m.

Council still split on city manager

Councilwoman: Council remains divided on finalists

Covington still has no city manager, as the Covington City Council did not vote on anything Tuesday night following an hour-long executive session.

"We are divided, and we are trying to work it out as a council. There is no consensus. Everyone is trying to be on the same page," Councilwoman Ocie Franklin said after the meeting.

She said that some of the council members feel there are some conflict of interest issues involving some of the candidates and some council members.

The council did not have to vote tonight, but it had narrowed the field of prospective city manager candidates down to three finalists two weeks ago. Once a local government chooses its top three candidates for a position like city manager, state law requires governments to wait at least 14 days before selecting a finalist. Tuesday was the first day the council could have voted on its final choice, but it took no action.

The three finalists up for the position are Covington Finance Director Leigh Anne Knight, Covington Police Capt. Craig Treadwell and a former Florida city manager, Oel Wingo.

"At this point, the city council has not appointed anyone to the position city manager of Covington. We will discuss our next direction at our Feb. 4 meeting. I don’t know if it will be in executive session," Mayor Ronnie Johnston said after the meeting as his official statement.

Following Tuesday’s executive session, there was no open session, but Councilman Chris Smith was the first to leave followed by Councilman Keith Dalton. Johnston and the three councilwomen had remained in the council chamber talking after the session had ended. A handful of members of the public and city employees had come to city hall to wait outside the council chamber.

"I’m very disappointed that this council didn’t go forward with picking someone tonight," Smith said by phone after the meeting. He said he didn’t have any other comment at this time.

Though Franklin did not give specifics, her "conflict of interest" statements are most likely related to the two internal candidates – Knight and Treadwell.

Knight’s daughter is good friends with Smith’s daughter and the two families have gone on two trips together; however, Knight said those trips were purely for the daughters and noted that she and Smith do not spend time together socially outside of their daughter’s lives.

Treadwell and Dalton jointly own a real estate business, Hat Creek Properties. Dalton said previously that both city attorneys as well as outside attorneys had told him there was no conflict of interest issue that prohibited him from voting on Treadwell’s appointment, should such a vote come up.

For more in-depth profiles of all of the candidates, including resumes and reports from the consulting group that conducted the search, visit covnews.com.

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