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Delray comissioners resume city manager deliberations

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — It will be institutional memory versus the eyes of the outsider as Delray Beach city commissioners resume deliberations over the next city manager Tuesday evening.

So far, institutional memory, represented by Doug Smith, one of Delray’s assistant city managers since 2005, has the lead over outsider Louie Chapman, Bloomfield, Conn.’s town manager, by a 3-2 margin. Commissioners hope to at least get a supermajority in favor of one of the candidates, if not a unanimous vote, before authorizing City Attorney Brian Shutt to negotiate a contract with him.

City commissioners will meet at 6 p.m., their last regular meeting for 2012.

Commissioners began deliberations during a special meeting Friday after conducting public interviews with four candidates. They eliminated two candidates, former Holly Hill City Manager Oel Wingo and Paul White, Riviera Beach’s community development officer, in a series of votes that left Smith and Chapman as the front runners.

Smith was an assist village manager in North Palm Beach before moving on to Delray Beach in 2005. Before, he worked for the Athens-Clarke County, Ga., unified government. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia.

Chapman was an assistant manager in Charlottesville, Va., before taking the Bloomfield job. He also held a variety of other positions in Charlottesville and Petersburg, Va.

Commissioners Al Jacquet and Angeleta Gray favored Chapman because of his outside perspective and additional experience.

“Doug is knowledgeable,” Gray said. “He’s been trained by one of the best, but I’m leaning toward more experience.”

The “one of the best” reference was to retiring City Manager David Harden, who has served the city for more than two decades.

Jacquet said hiring Chapman while keeping Smith on hand as an assistant would give the Delray Beach the best of both worlds — the outsider’s viewpoint and Smith’s familiarity with the city.

But Commissioners Adam Frankel doubted whether Smith would stay if he wasn’t offered the job. “I don’t think we can count on that,” Frankel said. “I don’t want to take that chance.”

Frankel also didn’t like Chapman’s position regarding changing the police and fire pension fund. Frankel serves on the fund’s board.

Mayor Woodie McDuffie was a bit stronger. “I do not believe he will stay,” McDuffie said of Smith. “I don’t think we will retain him if he doesn’t get the job.

Retaining institutional memory is particularly important for the city at this point. Not only is Harden retiring in early January, McDuffie is stepping down. In addition, there’s a municipal election scheduled for March, which in theory could leave the commission with a majority of first-term members.

There is no guarantee, however, that commissioners' top pick will end up with the job. Harden, for example, was the city's second choice when he took the job.

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DECEMBER 11, 2012 click to go home
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