Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell said he is honored to be one of five finalists for the city manager’s position in Tacoma, Wash., but he notified officials there Thursday afternoon that he will not follow through with the interview.
“My research has shown it to be a wonderful opportunity with a great deal of potential, but at this time such a dramatic geographical change does not fit within my personal objectives,” Russell said he wrote to the person helping Tacoma with its search.
Tacoma, which is about the same size as Augusta, with a population just under 200,000, has been looking for a new city manager since October, said Rob McNair-Huff, the community relations manager for the city.
Finalists will be in town next week for a series of interviews, including a televised public forum and a round of interviews with Tacoma City Council members, McNair-Huff said.
Russell went through a similar process when he was a finalist for a position in Sarasota County, Fla.
Russell would not say whether he was a candidate for positions in other cities but said the Tacoma job was one of a couple he sought out after becoming “concerned” a couple of weeks ago.
“This is one I actually applied for,” he said.
Russell had come under fire in recent months during efforts by a majority of Augusta Commission members to increase his authority to hire, fire and promote employees without commission approval.
His July decision to promote and award hefty raises to 44 employees involved in a reorganization of several city departments created a stir and surprised most of the 10-member commission.