Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Roanoke citizen input session held for new city manager – video

Ten citizens show for last city manager input meeting Thursday night.

Ten citizens show for last city manager input meeting Thursday night.


Council member Cuter, Mason and Robert Craig

Council member Cuter, Mason and Robert Craig

Roanoke attorney, Stephen Lemon says that a new manager will give Roanoke “a chance to turn the page to the future.” In Lemon’s opinion a city manager says “yes” when they can but “no” when they have to.

Thursday night in council chambers was the last citizen input meeting for a new city manager. In a relaxed atmosphere of 10 people who came to the public session, Colin Baenziger of Colin Baenziger & Associates out of Wellington Florida listened patiently taking notes. The hour-long meeting left citizens to just speak what was on their mind. No questions asked just let loose with whatever they wanted to say. (see video)

Brenda Hale spoke the longest about the qualities she would like to see in a new city manager. She wanted someone who would invest in people and the community and work together in a diverse city.

Evelyn Bethel, Helen Davis and Brian Keenum

Evelyn Bethel, Helen Davis and Brian Keenum

Evelyn Bethel and Helen Davis wanted to see a city manager that would “say what she means and mean what she says.” They voiced their concerns of the outgoing city manager, Darlene Burcham being allowed her to remain on the job until March 2010. Baenziger said that this was a not uncommon and council member Rupert Cutler and Gwen Mason said it was working well.

Bethel also wanted a city manager who was “willing to listen” saying that there was “nothing wrong with admitting a mistake.”

Bob Frampton of Roanoke County having moved here from Los Angeles said he found Roanoke extremely livable and family oriented. He added that he found the “ethnicity huge for a city of this size.” Frampton said his 7-year-old daughter had tears in her eyes when moving from Roanoke was mentioned. “That was the most positive thing she could have said to me,” said Frampton. (see video)

Colin Baenziger

Colin Baenziger

Prospects in mind:

Baenziger already has prospects in mind – a young lady from the Midwest and a young man from Florida. He said though there are some prospects locally and there are advantages to that. However being from Virginia is “not conditional” for selection. “Sometimes it’s a good thing to push people out of their comfort zone,” said Baenziger.

The politics of a state for example like Virginia’s Dillon Rule can be a learning curve for someone outside of Virginia. On the other hand they can bring a different fresh view for a city that may have some difficulties. Baenziger made it strongly clear that “selling Roanoke” to a perspective city manager would not be a hard sell. He said he’s had some tough cities to recruit city managers for but Roanoke was definitely not one of them.

Acceptance of applications will close October 23rd. It will take one month to screen the applicants. On November 2 Baenziger will return to give City Council an update. Council will deliberate in November with interviews in December. Baenziger expects a contract to be signed no later than January 2010. He caveats that, “it might be a little optimistic on my part” and “it depends on the Council members.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Roanoke City Politics, Video

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