City Manager David Parrish announced on Tuesday, May 11 that he was resigning effective June 30, and it appears there is already a battle brewing over his replacement.
The controversy is not about who to hire to replace Parrish, who is 42 and has been city manager for three years, but on when to hire the new city manager and who gets to do the hiring.
City Councilmember Justin Outling on Tuesday said, “The next mayor and the next City Council should select the city manager they will be working with for the next four years.”
Outling, who is running for mayor, said that delaying the decision until after the November election would keep the decision from being “politicized” and would give the city adequate time to do a national search.
Outling said, “We need an administrator who is creative and knows how to get things done.”
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter on Wednesday, April 12, took the exact opposite position on when the new city manager should be hired. Abuzuaiter said, “I think we would be remiss if we did not go ahead and try to get someone in place as soon as possible.”
Abuzuaiter said, “David is leaving during our tenure. I think we need replace him as soon as we are able.”
She said, “Ideally, I’d love to see someone in there by Sept. 1.”
She added that she thought that the city should do a national search and that timeline might be overly optimistic, but that she thought it was a good goal.
Abuzuaiter was adamant that the council move forward as quickly as possible to find a new city manager and said, “I don’t think we should consider doing anything else. We are here to serve the community and make sure things are running smoothly. I really don’t want to see that position vacant for any longer than necessary.”
Abuzuaiter said “Waiting for a new City Council would be another six months and I don’t think that would be fair to the residents.”
The City Council election will be held on Nov. 2 and the mayor and councilmembers elected to four-year terms will be sworn in December 2021. After the new City Council is sworn in, there is usually one regular City Council meeting before the end of the year.
Considering that it’s difficult to get much accomplished during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, that would mean the earliest a city manager could be hired by a new City Council would be the middle of January. If that is the timeline, Greensboro would operate with an interim city manager for over six months.
Under the Greensboro council-manager form of government, the City Council has two employees – the city manager and the city attorney. City employees work for the city manager, not the City Council.