Tom Russell

Tom Russell

After 10 months as the city manager, Tom Russell has made his case to remain in the position.

Russell sent an email to at least four members of the city commission over the past few days — Leesa Unger and Kelly May on Friday, per Unger, Kyle Thompson on Sunday and Katrisha Waldridge on Monday — detailing why he believes he should remain as the city’s top administrator.

“As the search for a new CM (city manager) continues, I think the following experiences that the City has gone through in the past 10 months, while under my leadership, provides enough substance to prove that you have the right person in the chair as the CM,” Russell wrote.

Waldridge shared the email with The State Journal following an open records request. 

Russell did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon. It is unclear if he has officially applied for the job, which is the subject of a nationwide search. Human Resources Director Kathy Fields said that she could not provide any names of candidates who have applied for the post.

A longtime director of emergency management for the city and county who has remained in that post while working as city manager, Russell noted that he has helped lead the community through the pandemic in both roles.

Other attributes and experiences that he highlighted include navigating the response to the city’s server being hacked; working on this next fiscal year’s budget; keeping major economic development projects afloat; getting buy-in from city staff; and knowing Frankfort’s political landscape.

“All of these experiences over my career and first 10 months as CM have certainly helped to solidify my status to that of a seasoned and qualified CM, but when you find that I have lead through most of those things in a very short amount of time, and produced a positive outcome that few thought possible, then I truly believe you have found someone that fits the expectations of CM that this community deserves,” Russell wrote. “While the challenges exist of economics and growth the fact remains that I have led through all of the aforementioned situations and have proven that I am the right person for the CM job.”

In an interview with The State Journal in March, Russell did comment on whether he had officially applied for city manager.

Russell was appointed interim city manager in August shortly after the commission voted 3-2 to fire former City Manager Keith Parker. In April, Russell's "interim" status was dropped; he's been contracted to serve as city manager on a temporary basis, with the latest contract extending his time in the post to July 30.

For the better part of this year, the city has been conducting its search for a new city manager.

The first round of the hiring process ended after the commission voted unanimously to withdraw a $150,000 offer to Thomas Hutka, a veteran municipal administrator from Broward County, Florida. 

In that round, six candidates were interviewed by the commission, a citizens committee and city department heads. Three candidates made it to the finalist round, and the commission narrowed it down to two before offering the job to Hutka.

Earlier this month, the city commission voted 4-1 to interview two candidates from the first round of its search. Those interviews took place last Monday.

The city commission meets at 5 p.m. Monday, and is scheduled to hold a closed discussion regarding the city manager hiring process.

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