The council voted to appoint Cummins in a 5-0 vote — with Cummins abstaining — following an executive session.
Cummins will receive $10,000 a month, less his council salary, until a replacement can be found for Wood, who resigned in a controversial move minutes before the new council’s first meeting Jan. 2.
Hobgood appointed a committee Thursday night, consisting of new councilmen John Rust and Bill Grant, to search for a permanent city manager. Exactly how long that process will take, Hobgood said he wasn’t sure.
“I would hope in the next few days we’ll have that search committee (meeting),” the mayor said after the meeting. “It could be a very short period, and it may not be.”
Hobgood added the committee will make a short list of potential candidates and the city council will make the final decision.
Cummins said he was willing to work the job as long as it takes.
“But I’m hoping that we’ll be able to find somebody in three to four months, maybe five,” he said after the meeting. “The vote of confidence is excellent.”
Even Councilman Hooky Huffman voted to approve giving Cummins the job, after making accusations earlier this month that Hobgood threatened to fire Wood if he didn’t quit.
Hobgood did not confirm or deny if Huffman’s claim was true. Wood noted in his resignation letter he wasn’t “angry with anyone,” prompting others to question his resignation, along with the fact that the council voted to give him six months’ severance pay, which his contract required only if he was fired “without cause.”
But although Huffman has been a vocal critic of Wood’s resignation and accused Hobgood of trying to run a “Chicago-style, Washington-style type of government,” he spoke during the meeting Thursday and expressed regret for his behavior.
“I think most people understand why I’m disappointed, but I’ve got to realize that change is always going to be,” Huffman said to the council. “With that, I’ve got to tell you that I want to change the past two weeks, because it was so disturbing to me that I went and got some outside counseling. I want to change my attitude. I want to change my behavior.”
Huffman added he realized since three new council members came on board Jan. 2 he might be the “vocal minority.”
“It’s not a pleasant seat but I imagine I can deal with it,” Huffman said to the council. “I do believe this council and the people in the audience, that we all have the same goals and directions that we want this city to go ... I realize I may not be loved by all. But I will say, Mr. Mayor, I love you, and I love every one of you.”
Cummins, who is entering his third year on the council, was chosen by a committee Hobgood appointed to name an acting city manager after the two-week period of Chief Financial Officer Nathan Ingram’s service in that role. Ingram has said he wasn’t interested in going after the job full time at this point in his career.
Cummins said he was qualified to serve.
“If you research my background, I think you’ll find this is something I’ve done before — not city manager (specifically),” he said after the meeting.
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, according to his website. He also worked for seven years with pharmaceutical company Schering Plough, managing a department of more than 140 employees, his website says.
Grant, who chaired the committee to choose the interim city manager, said the committee was confident in its choice.
“We have full faith in our recommendation,” Grant told the council.
Also during the meeting Thursday, the council:
• Voted unanimously to start a task force made up of Jennifer Dunn, Kendall Jones of Must Ministries, and Gary Lamb of Action Church to organize emergency warming shelters in the city. Hobgood asked Grant to serve as council representative for the task force;
• Heard Hobgood’s announcement that a committee to consider fire services would be reformed with Cummins, Councilwoman Sandy McGrew and Grant. Grant was selected as chair;
• Voted unanimously to deny and have staff research a rezoning request for an existing business on Railroad Street; and
• Unanimously approved Grant as mayor pro-tem.