Seven give input at last session

Published 9:53 pm Friday, July 31, 2015

The third public input session regarding the new city manager drew seven people to the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center on Thursday.

That made a grand total of 18 people who attended one of the three sessions scheduled to hear from citizens about who they would like to see fill the vacant position. The first session at King’s Fork Recreation Center got no attendance, and 11 attended the second at East Suffolk Recreation Center.

Participants were placed into small groups with two city employees each: one who led the discussion and the other who wrote down the themes of the conversation.

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Participants talked about the highest priorities the new city manager should concentrate on and the traits and professional expertise he or she should possess.

As at Tuesday’s meeting at East Suffolk Recreation Center, leadership and vision were the major themes of the night. Many specific concerns cited by participants overlapped between the two meetings.

Thursday’s group wanted education, infrastructure, management of natural assets, economic development, valuing of volunteers such as the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad and promotion of North Suffolk to top the list of management priorities.

Experience participants desired in their new city manager included business and planning skills, longevity at former employment, and a proven track record at a locality that has already gone through a period of economic growth and produced local careers, not just jobs.

Traits participants wanted to see included relatability, communication skills, ethics, transparency, common sense, the ability to build consensus, a well-rounded individual and someone who’s not a micromanager.

“The city manager has to realize, ‘Who do I work for?’” participant George Mears said after the meeting. The city manager should keep in mind he or she is working for city residents rather than City Council, Mears said.

Malachia Pork said the city needs better jobs.

“We need quality jobs, not warehouse jobs,” he said. He also suggested that the city manager should have a citizen facilitator group.

At least two of the participants had good things to say about the interim city manager, Patrick Roberts.