The Covington City Council finally made a decision on its next city manager Thursday, making Finance Director Leigh Anne Knight the first female city manager in the city’s history.
We offer our sincere congratulations to Ms. Knight, but that doesn’t change the fact we’ve been disappointed with the city council’s handling of the city manager search on pretty much every level up until the final appointment.
First of all, some officials expressed dissatisfaction with how the process was handled by The Mercer Group, while the consultant himself was quoted at one point as saying he thought the council left some really good candidates out of the semifinalists list.
The council received 98 external candidates and only two made it to the semifinal list. Yes, two more top options dropped out, but it was at that point that the council should have gone back and chosen a few more external candidates to compare to the six internal candidates.
The council failed to communicate in a series of split votes, leaving fellow council members and the public confused as to who believes what and why. It’s OK for a council to be divided based on opinion, but those opinions should be clearly presented to both the council and the public and should be based on solid reasoning, not gut feelings.
We’re also a little confused as to why former city manager Steve Horton has not been asked to weigh in on the process. You have a man who has served in various city departments, was groomed for the job, served for many years, was incredibly well respected and has said he’s willing to help in any way possible; yet he wasn’t consulted at all.
Finally, the council met in executive session again last night. At that point, what was the point? Governments are never required to meet in executive session, and, in this case, we believe the council needed to allow the public into the process. You already mangled it; don’t continue to hide behind closed doors. You don’t need to be protected; you need to do your jobs.
In the end, it appears the council couldn’t put aside petty differences, but the job got done all the same. Stand up for what you believe but don’t fall into dysfunction. People are beginning to think of their local elected officials in the same way as state and federal legislators. That’s not what we want and it’s not what we deserve.