Suffolk city manager leaving for Richmond job

Published 10:46 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Suffolk City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn is leaving to take the job of chief administrative officer job with the city of Richmond.

Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones made the announcement Wednesday at Richmond’s city hall.

Cuffee-Glenn worked in planning and community development for the city of Richmond before coming to Suffolk. She also led planning and community development for the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and taught at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Urban Studies Department.

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She became Suffolk’s city manager in 2008 after joining the city in 2005 as assistant city manager for development.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson on Wednesday praised Cuffee-Glenn effusively.

“Richmond’s gain is Suffolk’s loss,” Johnson said. “She is a professional from bottom to top. Sometimes, perhaps, we don’t know what we’ve lost until we lose it.”

The mayor said she spent a lot of time with Cuffee-Glenn during the past six years.

“I have been probably with her more than anyone in past years,” she said. “I’ve walked through tornadoes to financial tornadoes to everything else. I got to see her through many regional negotiations. She is just a strong individual. She stands up for what’s right even in the face of people criticizing.”

But Johnson said the city will be fine thanks to the financial position and leadership team Cuffee-Glenn is leaving behind.

“No one person makes a city,” Johnson said. “We’ll just continue to work hard with what we have. This is a huge step up for her in her career and something she so deserves.”

Councilman Curtis Milteer also praised Cuffee-Glenn.

“I think the city is losing a jewel,” he said. “There has been seven city managers since I’ve been on council, and she has brought this city up to a level of bond rating higher than anyone else during this period of time.”

In a letter to council members dated April 15, Cuffee-Glenn said she had decided to accept Richmond’s offer “after much contemplation.”

She noted the list of challenges and solutions she had been a part of, including the 2008 tornado, disestablishment of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, leading the city to its first AAA bond rating and the oversight of construction projects like city hall, the police administrative building and many others.

She also said she has closed a cumulative budget deficit of $17 million from 2008 to 2013 and added more than $20 million to the budget through efficiencies and savings.

“I will miss the incredible professionals that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout the years,” she wrote. “I thank you for the opportunities that I have experienced in the city of Suffolk.”

Councilman Roger Fawcett said he wished Cuffee-Glenn the best.

“She’s served us well,” he said. “We may not have agreed with every process she’s put forward, but she’s done a very exceptional job for our city. I wish her and her family and the city of Richmond and her endeavors all the luck in the world and hope it all goes well for her.”

Councilman Mike Duman said he was “disheartened” but happy for Cuffee-Glenn.

“It’s an upward move for her, it’s substantially more compensation, and it’s a much larger municipality with more responsibility,” he said. “She has to do what she feels is best for her and her family.”

He alluded to the current makeup of City Council after last November’s elections brought in three new representatives and shook up Cuffee-Glenn’s solid support among her eight bosses.

“Under the circumstances, I don’t blame her a bit,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, she works for eight individuals, and her job is subject to the wishes of the majority.”

The City Council discussed Cuffee-Glenn’s performance in a closed meeting at its first full meeting after new members were seated in January. The discussion came on a motion from Councilman Tim Johnson.

“I wish her the best,” he said on Wednesday. “Hopefully, in her new endeavors, it will advance her career and move her wherever she wants to be. Our city’s headed in a good direction, and we’re going to keep on heading in that direction.”

Myles Standish, a former Suffolk city manager, said he wishes Cuffee-Glenn well.

“This will give the city council an excellent opportunity to select a city manager that can assist them in their efforts to promote more open discussion and decision making,” he said.

Jones, Richmond’s mayor, said he’s looking forward to having Cuffee-Glenn back.

“I’m excited to bring Selena back to Richmond because she possesses the professional management and administrative skills we need right now,” he stated.

“Like most cities and most governments, we have too many needs and not enough money to meet them all,” Jones stated. “I’m not interested in raising taxes, or cutting back on the services our residents expect and deserve, so this means we have to be wise with our resources and we have to operate more efficiently and effectively. We have to make Richmond an easier place to do business with; a place that gets things done. I believe Selena can help strengthen and improve upon our operations.”

He noted Cuffee-Glenn has more than 30 years of experience with municipal government management and “assembled a strong management team that led to a AAA bond rating for Suffolk during her tenure.”

Her appointment becomes effective on May 18, and her salary will be $203,000 annually, according to the Richmond press release.