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Red Bank continuing to vet city manager candidates

Red Bank is still looking for a new city manager after Randy Hemann, the candidate selected by a unanimous vote of city commissioners at a special meeting Dec. 13, turned down the position last week.

“It was a good experience, but it’s just not what I’m led to do right now,” said Hemann in a phone message after turning down the job.

“What really impressed me most about him was he wanted to be where God wanted him to be,” said Commissioner Ruth Jeno after the Dec. 13 meeting, as to why Hemann was her No. 1 choice.

At a work meeting prior to Hemann’s selection, commissioners decreased the job’s annual salary from the $91,800 earned by former city manager Chris Dorsey, who was fired suddenly by commissioners in October after six years of service. Commissioners voted to cap Hemann’s salary at $75,000, the amount he said he required on his resume, though this would have been a pay cut from his 2010 earnings of $78,200 and additional $3,900 in compensation as executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc. in Salisbury, N.C.

Billie Glasscock, Red Bank resident and wife of former mayor Joe Glasscock, said at the Dec. 13 meeting she was impressed by Salisbury’s high recommendation of Hemann.

“They said he’s the best asset they had,” she said.

The organization recently gave Hemann a $12,000 raise, which Millard said occurred following his selection as a finalist for the Red Bank position.

Commissioners were polled as to whether they would be willing to raise his new salary to meet the $87,000 he now makes in Salisbury, and the majority agreed.

“Regretfully he has decided to decline,” said Millard. “He didn’t want to move his family here.”

He said the commission plans to take another look at previous applicants within the next few weeks.

Aside from current Red Bank Fire Chief Mark Matthews, Hemann was the only candidate Red Bank residents publicly spoke in support of.

“I listened to the people,” said Millard after the commission voted to hire Hemann. “As public servants, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

He said 39 applications were submitted for the position and the commission had selected the five strongest candidates to interview, which along with Hemann and Matthews included Hamilton County Republican Party head Marty Von Schaaf, local CPA Randy Fairbanks and Jim Folkner, best known for spearheading the effort to oust Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Hemann was the only out-of-town candidate among the finalists, though Millard has stated he would prefer to hire someone who lives in Red Bank and is therefore invested in the city’s success.

Red Bank resident Nancy Watkins disagrees.

“With the controversy we’ve had recently, someone from out of town would look at it from a different light,” she said at the Dec. 13 meeting. “Normally I like to go with local people, but in our situation someone from out of town could give their unbiased opinion.”

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