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3 top picks to replace City Administrator Fred Russell named

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 10:39 PM
Last updated Thursday, July 10, 2014 1:47 AM
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Landing a job as city administrator would be “the crowning touch of my career, to manage in my hometown,” for Augusta native Janice Allen Jackson. But commissioners and the mayor said they’ll weigh her application against two other well-qualified finalists who interviewed Wednesday for the top post.

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Oscar Rodriguez was a town manager in New Mexico.
Oscar Rodriguez was a town manager in New Mexico.

The former city manager of Albany, Ga., Jackson joined Stephen Layson and Oscar Rodriguez as Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s top picks to replace Fred Russell after a nationwide search. Layson is the chief administrative officer of Bibb County, Ga., and Rodriguez is the former town manager of Taos, N.M.

Augusta Commission members and Copenhaver spent hours interviewing the three candidates Wednesday but will not make a final decision for two weeks. Georgia open records laws require they wait two weeks after releasing the names of finalists before making a final decision.

Jackson grew up on Cherry Avenue off Laney-Walker Boulevard in east Augusta and graduated from the Academy of Richmond County in 1981. She completed a bachelor’s degree in public policy and English at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., in 1985 then a master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in management at Duke University in 1989.

Jackson was hired as assistant city manager of Albany, population 76,900, in 1993. She described Wednesday being called a year later into heavy service as public information officer during the Flood of 1994, which caused great destruction in southwest Georgia. In 1996 she was named city manager, a title she held through December 2004. In 2005 she became general manager in the county manager’s office in Mecklenburg County, N.C., for which Charlotte is the county seat.

She touched on many topics during the interview, from the “vacating of the central city” where she grew up and the importance of integrity and professionalism, to creating budgets and conducting employee evaluations.

Asked by Commissioner Bill Lockett about the role diversity had played in her career, Jackson reflected back on her time at Richmond Academy, whose student body at the time was approximately half black and half white and from all income levels.

“That gave me the opportunity to know what it was like to be around everybody,” she said.

Layson has served as chief administrative officer since 2005 in Bibb County, which consolidated with Macon this year. He previously held a variety of positions, including vertical projects manager for Reynolds Plantation, a federal projects coordinator for a Putnam County boot camp and a small business owner in Eatonton.

Layson has a bachelor’s degree from Georgia College & State University in criminal justice from 1980 and has held (on an interim basis) several department head positions in Bibb County. He also competed with Augusta’s former deputy administrator, Bill Shanahan, for a county manager job in York County, S.C., last year. Layson lost the position to Shanahan.

Asked whether public or private funds should be used to spur development, Layson said “it depends on the temperature of the people who are supplying the money.” He also described working in Macon-Bibb’s “strong mayor” new form of government as good but “still in the honeymoon period.”

Rodriguez characterized Augusta as “a beautiful community” and “great place to raise my family” during his first visit Wednesday. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1980 and a master’s degree in city planning from MIT in 1982 and writes articles for management publications.

His descriptions of the numerous facets of government he’d managed over the years, such as contracts, drew praise from commissioners, who peppered him with questions about management.

“You don’t need to be doing contracts that your people can’t follow that are above their ability,” he stated.

Asked how to foster growth for new arrivals, such as workers associated with Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, Rodriguez said “create for the highest quality of life you can create” for those high-income workers to enjoy themselves.

Comments (20) Add comment
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rebellious
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rebellious 07/10/14 - 06:41 am
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Layson's Resume is impressive!

Copy and paste URL below

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCMQFjABOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fprod-admin1.halifax.atex.cniweb.net%3A8080%2Fpolopoly_fs%2F1.120973.1364939457!%2Fmenu%2Fstandard%2Ffile%2F3%2520%2520County%2520Administrator.pdf.pdf&ei=_mq-U_TtBYiayATlk4Fo&usg=AFQjCNFxyIU9giSdBbtXuHdLsMx8sTkDZg&bvm=bv.70138588,d.aWw

avidreader
3089
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avidreader 07/10/14 - 06:41 am
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Ms. Jackson!

When the Commission offers you the job, please understand that you are facing a Hornet's nest. These guys will micro-manage your job to a point where you will walk into work everyday, very frustrated. These old dogs are not likely to learn any new tricks.

I understand that my comments are very pessimistic; however, after thirty years of paying close attention to Augusta politics, I am merely conveying a well-deserved opinion.

Good luck!

rebellious
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rebellious 07/10/14 - 06:50 am
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Harvard Grad?

Mr. Rodriguez' quote “You don’t need to be doing contracts that your people can’t follow that are above their ability,” had me scratching my head. Never very good at sentence structure, I don't like to have to think this hard to "unnerstan" a response.

Then his next response:
Asked how to foster growth for new arrivals, such as workers associated with Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, Rodriguez said “create for the highest quality of life you can create” for those high-income workers to enjoy themselves.
Reminds me of the Army's "Be all that you can be" slogan. Maybe I am being too critical, but these two excerpts leave me nervous of Mr. Rodriguez as Administrator. If these are his first statements, cloaked in vaguery, the only direction to go is downhill.

seenitB4
85139
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seenitB4 07/10/14 - 06:55 am
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Harvard means nothing

I thought the same thing rebel.....some on here could teach him a thing or two.

rebellious
20621
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rebellious 07/10/14 - 06:56 am
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Ms. Jackson's professional history

bears a remarkable resemblance to Helen Blocker Adams'. Augusta needs more than motivational consultant "plans". Lord knows we have enough studies and "plans" in the file cabinets to fill a newly enlarged city clerks office. We need a rolled up sleeves, action oriented, get er done type Administrator. Not getting that feeling here.

Them that can, do! Them that can't, consult.

seenitB4
85139
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seenitB4 07/10/14 - 07:00 am
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Ya making my head hurt rebel

YOU are making too much sense...:)

rebellious
20621
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rebellious 07/10/14 - 07:16 am
5
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It's what

I do....

AFjoe
2294
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AFjoe 07/10/14 - 07:48 am
2
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Gentlemen go home

Just looking at the pictures...its a girl!!

corgimom
31059
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corgimom 07/10/14 - 07:59 am
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rebel, I thought the same

rebel, I thought the same thing too about Rodriguez. Next thing you know, he'll be saying that he wants world peace.

nocnoc
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nocnoc 07/10/14 - 08:03 am
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A need to look beyond Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s top picks

Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s is a lame duck with toooooo much time on his hands.

Why hamstring Augusta with his choices?
Why not open up the selection to other CSRA candidates that know and understand the crippled political process that ARC runs under?

corgimom
31059
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corgimom 07/10/14 - 08:04 am
2
5
Stephen Layson has been

Stephen Layson has been looking for a new job for awhile. He's been interviewed by other municipalities that then chose somebody else.

Why does he want to leave, and why do other municipalities turn him down?

dsterling9
766
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dsterling9 07/10/14 - 08:39 am
4
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OUTSIDERS

Why must we always go outside the area to fill positions? Look to home and away from the mayor's recommendations. We need someone familiar with the local scene. Each time something comes up taxpayers end up paying companies for candidate searches outside our hometown. Do we have no local qualified candidates applying or are they too aware of the political scene or moved away?

justthefacts
21291
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justthefacts 07/10/14 - 09:33 am
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Outsiders?

Different perspective? Varied experiences? Best practices from other cities? Less cronyism?

Riverman1
82151
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Riverman1 07/10/14 - 09:52 am
5
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I have no doubt who will be

I have no doubt who will be selected.

dichotomy
31989
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dichotomy 07/10/14 - 10:56 am
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"Asked by Commissioner Bill

"Asked by Commissioner Bill Lockett about the role diversity"

It was a toss up between Lockett and Williams as to which would nibble at the race bait first.

Did Lockett ask Layson or Rodriguez about diversity? Is this really a selection process or are they just going through the motions like our school board always does.

loretta
25
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loretta 07/10/14 - 11:11 am
4
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Open to new perspectives

I'm surprised at the nit-picking critiques here of Rodriguez' comments. Taken out of context, they might not make as much sense as they did in conversation. He's by far the best qualified candidate, with a huge amount of experience in other places that he can apply in Augusta. I think a professional manager from the outside might be just what we need.

itsanotherday1
41876
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itsanotherday1 07/10/14 - 01:26 pm
3
1
"I have no doubt who will be

"I have no doubt who will be selected." The one with the highest concentration of melanin?

Graymare
2992
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Graymare 07/10/14 - 03:51 pm
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1
Time for some new insights...

Time for some new insights... Rodriguez fits the bill. Hope he can handle the heat around here. Some of the above comments may give him a clue.

harley_52
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harley_52 07/10/14 - 04:35 pm
1
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"I have no doubt who will be selected."

Looks pretty clear to me too..

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if the Mayor, or the Commissioners, verify claimed degrees with the schools? Harvard and MIT...pretty strong, particularly for this job and with the language skills noted in the Article.

Pops
7704
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Pops 07/10/14 - 07:41 pm
3
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I hope she takes

good care and keeps everything on her "hart" drive.......

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