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Staff file photo / Red Bank City Hall on Dayton Boulevard is is shown in 2011.

Note: This story was updated on Aug. 26 to correct the preferred city manager candidate of Red Bank commissioners Ed LeCompte and Ruth Jeno.

Red Bank commissioners are selecting the city's new manager at a special-called meeting Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Financial Director John Alexander has served as interim city manager since the departure of former City Manager and Public Works Director Tim Thornbury, who wrote in his April 14 resignation email that he sensed a desire among some newly elected commissioners to take city administration in a different direction.

Commissioners have narrowed their options down to their top two candidates: Martin Granum, manager of facilities and parks services in Washington County, Oregon, and Jeff Burton, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency in Palmetto, Florida.

The city conducted a nationwide search for a new city manager with assistance from the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service, which also helped evaluate the candidates.

Honna Rogers, municipal management consultant for the advisory service, interviewed commissioners and city staff to develop five competencies on which the top four candidates would be ranked by a panel of four city management professionals, comprising former and current city managers and assistant city managers.

The competencies were work habits and motivation, interpersonal skills, teamwork and cooperation, community engagement and management skills. Candidates were also given information about Red Bank, asked to present a one-year plan for the city and judged on their presentation skills by the same panel, Rogers said.

Mayor Hollie Berry made a motion to offer Granum the position at the commission's Aug. 17 meeting, but the motion died for lack of a second.

Berry said Granum is her top choice because he received the highest rankings in interpersonal skills, teamwork and cooperation.

"It comes down to fit — who's going to work best with us, with our community," she said.

Vice Mayor Stefanie Dalton said she is also leaning toward Granum, who she said was the only candidate who, when asked, said he would live in the city if offered the job. He also asked for recommendations and visited Red Bank businesses, which Dalton felt set him apart.

When the city held a meet-and-greet event for the candidates, commissioners and community members, she said she was put off by what she felt was a lengthy amount of time Burton spent chatting with a handful of city staffers rather than seeking out conversations with community members.

Commissioners Ruth Jeno and Ed LeCompte both favor Burton for the position.

"His experience in economic development is what pushed me over the edge," Jeno said.

Pete Phillips is the only commissioner who remains undecided. He said he felt Granum would be a strong leader, but Burton is "a little bit more of a Southern boy" who would probably fit in easier with the city's department heads.

Granum and Burton did not provide their current salary information when applying for the job, and Rogers said the candidates were not given a salary range that the city was willing to pay.

The city in the past has conducted lengthy searches for a city manager that had to be repeated when the chosen candidate rejected the city's offer.

Commissioners asked Rogers to inform the candidates before the special called meeting Wednesday of the current salary of $110,000 paid to the interim and former city manager, but that the amount is negotiable.

As part of his separation agreement, the city is also on the hook to pay Thornbury 10 months salary, as well as health insurance, vehicle allowance and accrued vacation and sick leave through Oct. 31, 2021.

The Wednesday meeting will be held in the commission chambers at 3117 Dayton Blvd.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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