Welcome home, Mr. Roberts

Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It’s bad form to postpone notes of congratulations, so we begin this message with an apology to City Manager Patrick Roberts for waiting so long to publicly congratulate him for the promotion that removed the word “Interim” from his job title.

Though many might quibble with the abbreviated hiring process that resulted in City Council offering Roberts the job — conditional upon an agreement on compensation during the Oct. 7 meeting — few could argue that Suffolk could have found a person for the job with a better work ethic or anyone with a greater personal investment in the city’s success.

A native of Hampton Roads and one of the most honest and forthright people in city government, Roberts already has brought a fresh approach to a municipal government smarting from the destructiveness of the former regime, which was characterized by secretiveness and the rule of fear.

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There already are promising indications that Roberts intends to open up the dark closets where much of Suffolk’s administration formerly took place and that he properly values the trust of both council and the citizens of Suffolk.

Those traits would go far toward recommending a much less qualified individual than Roberts, who also brings a thoughtful and moderate tone to the job, along with an understated wisdom that will be a breath of fresh air in City Hall.

City employees, who have long suffered under the fear of crossing the former administration, can now rest easier in the knowledge they will be managed with fairness and compassion. Taxpayers can relax a bit in the knowledge that Roberts approaches the position with the perspective of a person who is at home in Suffolk, not just passing through on the way to supposedly greener pastures.

Welcome home, and congratulations to Patrick Roberts. We eagerly anticipate a new day in Suffolk, one characterized by true leadership and respect for the people of this fine city.