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Covington picks top 3 for city manager
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Covington City Council has selected its top three candidates for the position of city manager, which includes two internal candidates and one from out of state.

Covington Finance Director Leigh Anne Knight, Covington Police Capt. Craig Treadwell and Oel Wingo, a former city manager from Florida and city consultant, are the three finalists, according to an email from Mayor Ronnie Johnston on Tuesday.

The decision was made during an executive session held Monday night. Public works director Billy Bouchillon is currently serving as interim city manager.

Jim Mercer, with The Mercer Group, said the process of selecting a city manager has taken about three months. A total of 98 people applied for the position.

After several meetings in executive session, the council eventually narrowed its selection down to eight people for face-to-face interviews and then down to the top three candidates who were informed they were the finalists Tuesday afternoon.

Leigh Anne Knight
Knight has worked in management positions for the last 18 years, according to her resume submitted to The Mercer Group. She has served as the finance director for the city of Covington, managing a budget of more than $120,000,000 for the last three years.

Before working as the finance director for the city, Knight was employed as an accountant for Knight and Tabb Insurance Agency in Covington; handled vendor payments and payroll as the controller for Glenn Parker Electrical Contractors and Kelly Products; managed the invoices and data administration departments as a financial analyst for Bel-Tronics ; and worked as the staff accountant for Briscoe & Briscoe in Covington and Phillips, Casto and Company in Conyers.

Knight is a certified public accountant, licensed property and casualty insurance agent, and is currently working towards becoming a certified municipal clerk. Knight graduated from North Georgia College with a bachelor's degree in public administration and accounting in 1990. She is a lifelong resident of the area.

"In my tenure, I have worked diligently to bridge gaps between departments and promote a more unified work environment.

My work currently involves daily communication and interaction with the current city manager to facilitate financial and management decisions of the city of Covington.

I strive to work with all departments and department heads to the best of my ability to ensure the best outcome for the customer, citizen and the organization as a whole," Knight said in her cover letter to The Mercer Group.

Capt. Craig Treadwell
Treadwell has worked with the city of Covington for more than 30 years, with 27 of those years in managerial roles within the Covington Police Department.

According to a list of qualifications submitted to The Mercer Group, Treadwell has served 30 years as a law enforcement professional with 61 employees on staff; has served 27 years as a law enforcement supervisor; and 15 years as a commander.

Treadwell has been the Division Commander and Captain for the police department since 1997. From 1985 to 1997 he served as lieutenant for the investigative division; from 1982 to 1985 he served as a uniform patrol officer for the city; and from 1981 to 1982 he served as a deputy sheriff for the Newton County Sheriff's Department.

Treadwell received a master's degree in public administration from Troy University in 2002 and a bachelor's degree from Mercer University in 1999.

"I am unique in that not only do I have the credentials and skills that are required for an ideal candidate, but I also possess the passion, people skills, vision and ethics needed to keep the city of Covington on its path to sustainability and growth.

I have a solid history of producing positive results within various divisions of the police department," Treadwell said in his cover letter to The Mercer Group.

Oel Wingo
Wingo has been a public administrator for 25 years and has 15 years of local government experience with expertise in financial and budget management, community redevelopment, economic development and information technology and systems analysis.

She currently serves as the interim city manager for the city of Williston in Williston, Fla. and has previously served as the city manager for the city of Holly Hill, Florida from 2009 to 2010; assistant city manager for the city of Palm Coast, Fla. from 2000 to 2009; and assistant city manager for the city of Ocala, Fla. from 1995 to 2000.

According to reports, Wingo was fired as city manager for the city of Holly Hill in 2010 and an ethics complaint was filed by the city to the Florida Ethics Commission alleging that she tampered with documents, destroyed public records and entered into agreements beyond her authority.

An approved resolution from 2010 on file with the city of Holly Hill said Wingo misused her official position to enter into employment contracts with senior managers employed by the city of Holly Hill for the purpose of protecting and insulating herself from a possible reduction in compensation and benefits.

The commission found probable cause that Wingo misused her position in 2011; however, the administrative judge for the Commissioners on Ethics ruled in Wingo's favor and the charges were dismissed in October 2012. Wingo said the charges were "bogus" and mainly an issue of politics.

"I have been cleared by an administrative judge and I have been cleared by the Commission on Ethics.

The comments that were made by the commissioners on the Ethics Commission were that the whole charge was bogus and nothing but a political issue, Wingo said.

"It's just one of those things that you have to go through, and it seems to be happening more and more with public figures."

Wingo has a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of Florida, a master's degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida.

She was born in Savannah and said Georgia is like a second home. She said she would be a good fit for Covington and she has been really successful in her career.

"I'm impressed with the stability of the city and how well maintaining has been over the tenure of the last city manager; and how well the council appears to get along with one another. There seems to be a unity of purpose," Wingo said.

Each candidate was selected based on ratings from The Mercer Group's qualifications appraisal sheet, which included general impression, background, presentation, job effectiveness and administration.

Johnston said state law requires a period of 14 days before a final selection can be made.