July 23, 2014

Elyria
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City manager pick declines offer

OBERLIN — The City Council must make another stab at finding a city manager because top candidate Marcia Conner has decided to stay on as city manager in Atlantic Beach, S.C.

Oberlin offered Conner $100,000 a year, the use of a home and a $200-a-month gas allowance, but her town apparently offered a sweeter deal to keep her, said Council President Daniel Garden

Marcia Conner

Gardener said he probably had 10 telephone conversations with Conner after Council authorized him in executive session to negotiate a contract.

“She legitimately had a hard time making a decision, and I think ultimately it was a personal decision rather than the professional opportunity,” Gardener said. “Being on the Atlantic shore is never too bad.”

Conner, who formerly served as city manager of Durham, N.C., and the assistant city manager of Austin, Texas, was unavailable for comment, but she told The Sun News in Myrtle Beach that she decided to stay in Atlantic Beach.

The newspaper reported that the Atlantic Beach Council voted to extend a three-year contract to Conner and increase her part-time salary of $60,000 to a full-time position by reallocating funds from the salary of the former police chief, who resigned from his $61,500 job.

The Council planned to meet at 9 a.m. today in executive session to take part in a conference call that will include members who are out of town.

Council member Tony Mealy said he was disappointed Conner was bowing out.

“I am absolutely unhappy about it,” Mealy said. “The majority of Council did (want to hire her) — the only one who seemed to be hesitant probably was David Ashenhurst.”

Ashenhurst could not be reached, but another councilman, Everett Tyree, said he was disappointed Conner was staying in South Carolina.

“I think she would have done a good job,” he said.

Tyree said he personally does not want to hire the other top candidate, Charles Bowman, a former community development director for Kent, principal in Charta Consultants, vice president and treasurer of Ohio Valley Music and president of CDJ Consultants.

Tyree said he’s open to looking at additional candidates recommended by search consultant Sy Murray or going back to the list of other top candidates.

The other top candidates were:

• Mark Fitzgerald, former services director for West Chester and former city manager of Loveland.

• Vincent Jones, assistant to the city manager of Evanston, Ill., former budget analyst for Annapolis, Md., and former senior aide to the chief administrative officer of Orlando, Fla.

• Matthew Kline, a councilman in Mason, former mayor of Bolivar, and former village administrator of Canal Fulton.

• Eric Norenberg, the information technology services leader for Mesa, Ariz., who now is leading the city’s effort to develop a citywide Wi-Fi broadband network. Norenberg also served as former assistant to the city manager in Mesa.

Mealy said he was impressed with Norenberg during the last round of interviews.

During the last search for a city manager, Tyree said Council ultimately chose the fifth-ranked candidate — former City Manager Rob DiSpirito, who performed well for 10 years.

Gary Boyle, Oberlin’s planning director, has been filling in as city manager after DiSpirito left in January to take a similar position in Dunedin, Fla., but Tyree said, “the interim guy can only do so much.”

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.