2015-10-01 / Opinion

Time to Step Up the Pace

In the effort to eventually discover a suitable permanent successor to Newport’s erstwhile City Manager Jane Howington, the final sprint to the finish line should be shorter than the route thus far.

After 15 months and one failed effort to replace Howington, we admit that we never thought that the task of filling her shoes would take so long, or be this difficult.

Difficult, though, it has been. The city is lucky that former solicitor Joseph J. Nicholson Jr. has agreed to stand in as interim city manager in the first place, and for such an extended period.

We think the city can get it done efficiently this time and that it won’t take another 15 months to finally put a talented successor in the city manager’s chair. It’s time to step up the pace.

Mindful of that, we are glad to see that round two seems to have begun with a flurry of meaningful activity. Candidates for the steering committee should soon begin to surface. Advertisements to solicit city manager candidates are in the works, we are told, and will soon go out to both appropriate print and electronic outlets.

We urge the City Council to keep its collective foot on the gas pedal. Newport has much to accomplish.

Indeed, getting the seven-member steering committee in place needs to happen right away. The job of that panel will be to, as they say, separate the wheat from the chaff. As Michael J. Coury, Newport’s human resource administrator explained, part of that panel’s job will be to help the City Council to identify strong city manager candidates from those who are not up to the job. The costs of advertising and other expenses such as bringing worthy candidates to Newport for interviews can add up.

We urge the City Council and others involved in this mission to step to it. Newport has gone without a permanent city manager for long enough. We are pleased that our Sept. 24 editorial, “Tone Down Tower Rhetoric,” evoked serious and well-thought-out letter responses from Newport This Week readers. We strive to help readers think about community issues and are pleased to make this page available for lively discourse to all who wish to comment on our opinions– or on other timely issues.

Citizens spoke up, which led to a workshop on the issue where they once again voiced their viewpoints. That’s just as it should be.

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