A divided vote over a city manager candidate on Monday night left Brunswick leaders scratching their heads over what their next move will be in filling the vacant position.
By a vote of 4-3, Council members rejected a motion to hire former Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison as during a committee-of-the-whole meeting Monday. Under Council rules, a super-majority of five votes is required to hire a city manager.
“I’m sick about it, because we had a bipartisan group come together to support her,” Councilman Anthony Capretta, 4th Ward, said. He was joined by Ron Falconi, at-large, Pat Hanek, at large and Vince Carl, 2nd Ward.
Capretta said Davison has strong administrative experience that include a background in economic development.
“She has a history of bringing people together, and she’s a long-term planner,” Capretta said.
Council members have interviewed Davison twice, and she was on the finalist list that included former Dayton Fire Chief Larry Collins. The list of finalists was developed between Council and Management Partners, a firm the city unanimously hired in August.
Council has been seeking a permanent city manager since August when Jim Lukas resigned to move to southwest Ohio to be closer to family. Brunswick Police Chief Carl DeForest has been serving as interim city manager.
Capretta said he thinks the no votes of Councilman Mike Abella, 1st Ward, Councilman Brian Ousley, at large, and Councilman Dave Coleman, 3rd Ward, will make it difficult to hire a candidate.
“I never got an answer from any of them on what they thought her weaknesses were,” Capretta said.
During the meeting, the three councilman who voted no said they were upset that a one-hour executive session ended with a public vote on Davison.
“I’m offended you’re calling for a vote,” Coleman said to Falconi, who introduced the motion to extend Davison an offer. “I just became aware of your opinions today.”
Abella echoed Coleman’s comments and said he wanted another week to decide, and therefore would be casting a no vote.
Falconi defended his motion, calling Davison one of the most vetted candidates in the history of the city. Falconi and Capretta said they consulted department heads, who supported Davison for the position and said she was a strong candidate.
Before casting his no vote, Ousley said he, Abella and Coleman were working to move the city forward.
“There are three councilmen sticking together, hip-to-hip on this, to move the city forward,” Ousley said.
After the meeting, Ousley said he thought there were other candidates who would be a better fit for the city. He said the publication of candidates in the press made a complicated decision even more difficult.
Abella agreed, and said he wanted a different candidate.
“She just wasn’t in any of my top choices,” he said. “I wanted to do a little more research and I wanted more time.”
Hanek, who serves as vice mayor and chairs the committee-of-the-whole, said she would contact Management Partners about the city’s options going forward. She defended the public vote, arguing it was fair to let candidates know where Council stood after nearly a month of deliberating between two candidates.
“Both candidates are interviewing with other communities,” she said.
Falconi also defended the vote.
“Our candidates want to know whether or not a majority of Council wants to move forward,” he said.
Hanek said she doesn’t know if the city will have to start over with the search or if they can go back and consider some of the other applicants.
“I just don’t know what will happen next,” she said. “I have to call Management Partners tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”
Resident Mickie Petrenko told Council: “Now we have to spend more money to find someone else. I just don’t understand that at all.”
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.