Downtown Salisbury director a finalist for job in Tennessee city

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Randy Hemann, executive director for Downtown Salisbury Inc., is a finalist for the city manager’s position in Red Bank, Tenn.
Mayor Monty Millard said Hemann has a shot at landing the job even though he’s up against four candidates all from Red Bank — an accountant, the fire chief, a real estate developer and chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party. The city has about 11,000 residents and is completely surrounded by Chattanooga.
Hemann, who has led Downtown Salisbury since 1997, declined to comment.
“We were extremely impressed with his resumé, and we wanted to have a mixture of in-town and out-of-town people to consider,” Millard said. “We picked him out of everybody else, all the outsiders.”
Candidate interviews with five members of the Red Bank Commission, the city’s elected officials, are scheduled for later this month.
Red Bank fielded applicants from 19 states and narrowed the list to 39 candidates Wednesday. Millard said he asked commissioners to choose their top five candidates, and Hemann won three of five votes.
“Three decided that he was by far the most qualified candidate from out of town,” said Millard, who has not met Hemann.
Salisbury City Council member Brian Miller, who serves as the liaison to Hemann’s board of directors and has worked with him since 1999, said Hemann is a man of integrity and character who has done wonderful things for Salisbury.
“It would be a tremendous loss for Salisbury if he makes a decision to take a position elsewhere,” Miller said.
Hemann also has been good for tourism, said James Meacham, executive director for the Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau and a new board member for Downtown Salisbury.
“It would be unfortunate if he left, but if he chooses that in his career, I wish him the best,” Meacham said. “I would love for him to stay.”
On Oct. 4, the Red Bank Commission voted 3-2 to fire the previous city manager for poor management skills, concerns about the police department and a lack of support in economic development, said Millard. He said he wanted to keep the city manager, a former Memphis resident.
The city conducted a speedy search. Millard would like to have someone in place by the end of the year, City Recorder Ruth Rohen said.
The previous city manager served for six years, which “is a long time in this part of the world,” Millard said, and was the most senior city manager in Hamilton County. Salisbury’s last city manager, Dave Treme, served for 25 years.
Red Bank is on U.S. 27, the Dixie Highway, about five minutes from downtown Chattanooga. The city, which incorporated in 1955 and then watched Chattanooga grow up around it, is about 6.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, a narrow corridor between mountain ridges.
While a small city, Red Bank faces big-city issues, Rohen said.
The Red Bank Commission includes the mayor, vice mayor and three commissioners. All vote, and the commission will hire the new city manager and set his salary.
Miller said he supports Hemann’s right to pursue other opportunities.
“But I secretly hope he decides Salisbury is the place he needs to be,” Miller said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.