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Delray commissioners look to the outside for next city manager

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — It’s Louie Chapman.

Delray Beach city commissioners by a 3-2 margin Tuesday evening authorized City Attorney Brian Shutt to negotiate a contract with Chapman to replace David Harden as city manager. The runner-up: Delray Beach Assistant City Manager Doug Smith.

Chapman is the Bloomfield, Conn., town manager.

In the end, commissioners liked Chapman’s outside perspective and experience. He’s served Bloomfield for 19 years, and before that held municipal government positions in Charlottesville and Petersburg, Va. Commissioners Angeleta Gray, Tom Carney and Al Jacquet gave him their votes.

“I believe bringing in someone from the outside with a wealth of experience is good for Delray Beach,” Commissioner Al Jacquet said.

Smith, by contrast, has been with Delray Beach as an assistant since 2005. Before that, he was an assistant with North Palm Beach. He began his career with the Athens-Clarke County, Ga., unified government. Mayor Woodie McDuffie cited Smith’s history with the city and the institutional memory he would bring to the city manager's job.

“I don’t understand that,” McDuffie said of Jacquet’s desire to bring someone in from the outside. “We’ve got someone on hand that we know very, very well. My choice would be Doug Smith.”

Commissioner Adam Frankel joined McDuffie in supporting Smith, saying Chapman’s views on pension issues and support for Smith from city employees tipped the balance.

Commissioners began mulling their choices Friday after conducting public interviews with four candidates. They eliminated two candidates and favored Smith by a 3-2 vote. They held off on a final vote until Tuesday hoping to get at least a 4-1 margin in favor of one of the candidates. Commissioner Tom Carney swung his vote to Chapman.

Despite Tuesday's vote, there is no guarantee that Chapman will end up with the job. When Harden was hired more than two decades ago, he was commissioners’ second choice but got the job when the city couldn’t work out a deal with the top candidate.

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DECEMBER 11, 2012 click to go home
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