SNELLVILLE -- Police chief Roy Whitehead will serve as Snellville's interim city manager until a permanent replacement is found to replace Russell Treadway, who announced his resignation two months ago. Whitehead was nominated by Mayor Kelly Kautz and, after some heated discussion and a called executive session in the middle of the city council meeting to settle the matter, council members came back with a unanimous vote to approve Kautz's nomination.
Before Kautz announced her nomination for the interim city manager position, she asked city attorney Kevin Tallant to explain what happens if the position remains unfilled. Tallant explained that Kautz would have the overseeing authority, even though the city charter states that neither the mayor nor a council member can have any direct supervisory capability over city staff members or departments.
"It's obvious that the city needs an interim manager," Kautz said, then nominated Whitehead. "He's the best candidate at this point in time." Before putting the matter to a vote, Kautz asked Whitehead to approach the podium and state whether he'd accept the nomination. Whitehead stated that he would do whatever he could for the good of the city and felt that he could fulfill the duties of both positions on a temporary basis. Kautz then pointed out Whitehead's longevity of employment with Snellville and that he had the highest level of education than others with similar levels of authority in the city.
Kautz's nomination immediately drew fire from councilmen Dave Emanuel and Bobby Howard, and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts. Howard stated that, while he has the "utmost respect" for Whitehead, he felt that city staff members could perform their duties without city manager supervision for 60 days, the expected maximum number of days before a consulting firm selects a new candidate.
"There's nobody better than Chief Whitehead," said Emanuel, who said he opposed the nomination out of fear of a "perfect storm" that could leave Whitehead in a precarious position.
Witts apologized to Whitehead publicly, for being put in the difficult position resulting from dissension among the mayor and council. Witts also added that he did not know about Kautz's intent to move ahead with the nomination Monday night until about 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Kautz corrected Witts, saying that she made her intent to nominate Whitehead for the position known as soon as Treadway resigned the position.
Mary Morrison, a city resident who addressed the governing panel on the topic, said, "obviously you all need somebody to baby-sit you; you can't even agree on what to do for 60 days. Listening to this is like listening to my kids bicker."
As the disagreement continued, council woman Diane Krause moved to call for an executive session. Witts and Howard left the session shortly after it began, Witts said later that, "something other than the issue at hand was being discussed" in the closed session. Both men rejoined the session later, and the resulting vote was unanimous approval of Kautz's nomination.
"We voted (to approve the nomination) for the good of the city," Emanuel said after the meeting. "That's what we're here for, doing what's best for Snellville."