After a year of false starts, Red Bank finally is getting a new city manager.
Randall Smith, a businessman from Tallahassee, Fla., accepted the position Tuesday after the city's Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to hire him over Charles Beale. Commissioner Ruth Jeno was the only one to vote against Smith.
Before the vote, commissioners said both candidates were qualified for the job, but Vice Mayor John Roberts, who nominated Smith, said the new city manager needs to move Red Bank forward.
"I think what the city of Red Bank needs, it needs something different," Roberts said. "We found an outsider [in Smith] ... someone that has not been involved in a city manager position before and someone that thinks outside of the box."
However, Jeno had concerns about Smith's prior connection to the city.
Smith is the father of Tyler Smith, a Red Bank police officer during the period in which former chief Larry Sneed was fired in a controversy that has resulted in a series of lawsuits, including one filed by Sneed against the city.
Though Tyler Smith no longer works with the department, Randall Smith did not include the connection in his resume, but he did disclose the connection in his interview.
"I think we need a fresh clean start," Jeno said. "I don't think he's going to give it to us because of his knowledge of the history of the city."
Randall Smith currently runs a business helping private companies form government partnerships. Beale, who worked in banking for 30 years, now serves as city manager and city recorder in McKenzie, Tenn., a town of about 5,000 located 60 miles north of Jackson.
Red Bank has been without a city manager since commissioners abruptly firedChris Dorsey in October 2011. Dorsey, who was Red Bank city manager for six years, since has become the director of the Office of Management and Budget for Pasco County, Fla.
In the interim, Director of Finance John Alexander and City Recorder Ruth Rohen have been handling city manager duties.
Last December, commissioners undertook a monthlong process of interviewing five candidates, making their unanimous pick Randy Hemann, a city revitalization director in Salisbury, N.C. But Hemann turned down the job, a snafu Mayor Monty Millard later called "an embarrassment to the city."
Smith has made a full commitment to the city, according to Millard, and will begin work by Jan. 1 at the latest, though city officials are hoping he will be able to begin sooner. He will make an $80,000 salary with benefits, about $10,000 less than the city's previous manager.