The council came to a general agreement Thursday night during a closed meeting of the city manager selection committee Cummins was the best candidate for the job out of the multiple applicants interviewed, according to Councilman Hooky Huffman.
The council is set to vote July 3 on whether to hire Cummins, 73, a first-term councilman, who is retired from a career of management in the private sector.
Cummins has asked the city for a one-year contract for $120,000, which is the same pay he has been receiving since he has been filling in for Scott Wood, who abruptly resigned the post minutes before the first council meeting of 2014.
Council members Jack Goodwin, John Rust and Huffman each said Friday they feel Cummins is the best man for the job, and he’s done well in his interim role. Cummins said he plans to abstain from the vote.
“I think he’s the best candidate we’ve seen,” Goodwin said Friday. “He’s got years and years of management experience. He’s very thorough. We’re still 40 something million in debt. From what I’ve seen, everybody that’s working for him likes him. The other candidates were good, but he brings something to the table they don’t.”
Councilman Bill Grant said he will vote against hiring Cummins, partly because residents have told him they want a candidate who is new to Canton government and wouldn’t be bogged down with old agendas.
Grant added: “While I agree that Mr. Cummins has done a fine job as interim city manager, I was excited about the potential of hiring a qualified candidate with a fresh perspective. I believe we had other candidates who were very passionate about a city management career, and they could have contributed innovative ideas and best practices from their previous positions.”
Councilwoman Sandy McGrew said it’s too soon to tell how she’ll vote, and she plans to listen to residents for what they want. However the vote turns out, McGrew, like all other council members, praised Cummins’ service as interim city manager.
“Mr. Cummins has been doing a good job as interim city manager,” she said. “Whomever the council votes to take the position of city manager will have my support. I will work alongside of each and every one to move this city forward.”
Cummins is a retired businessman with more than 30 years’ experience as a manager with large companies and has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. He also worked for seven years with pharmaceutical company Schering Plough, managing a department of more than 140 employees. He has never been a city manager before January.
Though Cummins is new to city management, Rust pointed out “We didn’t have another candidate that had six months running Canton and two and a half years’ experience with the government of Canton.”
Cummins previously said he wasn’t interested in the job, because it was made for a younger man, but he said he changed his mind and applied in May. It was after Billy Peppers, a former economic development director with Woodstock, withdrew as the sole finalist in March, because most of the council didn’t feel he was qualified.
Now, Cummins says he’s honored to be the finalist and is prepared for the more permanent role.
“I’ve been doing it for five months and it seems to be working pretty well,” he said Friday. “All the feedback I get is I’m doing a good job. I’m just honored that they’re giving me this consideration.”
Cummins confirmed in addition to the $120,000, he has asked the city for six weeks of vacation and a city car to drive. He is asking for no retirement plan and no health insurance, other than dental, which he said will save the city money.
Asked for his opinion, Mayor Gene Hobgood, who has sometimes disagreed with Cummins since January, said it wasn’t relevant.
“It really doesn’t matter what I think, because I don’t get a vote,” Hobgood said Friday. “We’ll do our best to work with him and make his job as convenient as possible. I think Mr. Cummins is capable of doing a good job. I’ll do whatever I can to cooperate and help him. I think he has the majority of the council’s support. Being the only finalist, I’d say he’s a shoo-in.”