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COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia's deputy city manager will get a promotion when his boss retires next month.
The Columbia City Council unanimously chose De'Carlon Seewood as the next city manager, Mayor Brian Treece said in a news conference Monday.
Seewood has worked as deputy city manager under retiring city manager John Glascock for two years.
"He understands the inner workings of the city processes and has proven his ability to listen to the desires and concerns of employees and residents," Treece said of Seewood.
Glascock will retire Jan. 14 after becoming interim city manager in 2018 after Mike Matthes resigned. He was officially named city manager the following year. Glascock began working for the city in 2003 and served in a variety of roles including public works director and deputy city manager.
Seewood said a top priority will be changing the way the city takes feedback from the community. He said he wanted city employees to go into neighborhoods to talk to people about proposed projects, and also open new lines of communication online and via text.
"We don't do a good job of empowering residents to give us feedback," Seewood said. "So the idea for engagement, it's not just letting people know 'Hey, this is a project,' but it's getting feedback from residents saying, "Yes, it's a project I want."
One of Glascock's biggest tasks to start his tenure as city manager was hiring a new police chief after Ken Burton resigned. Glascock selected current Chief Geoff Jones for the role in January 2019.
The city began searching for Glascock's replacement after he announced his retirement in June and the search has become an issue in the campaign for the city's next mayor, who will be elected in April. Mayoral candidate Randy Michew earlier this month urged the council to hold off on the process until after the election with three of seven council seats on the ballot.
Seewood will have several top-level hires to make when he begins, such as directors of the Public Works and I.T. departments. He will also be in charge of hiring a human resources director, a new deputy city manager and the city's first diversity, equity and inclusion officer.
The city council has screened 32 applicants and interviewed three finalists, according to a statement from the city distributed Dec. 12.
"This Council is confident this process will produce a City Manager who is highly qualified to steer our community through the challenges that lie ahead and continue to move our community forward,” the statement says.
Treece said the search for Glascock's replacement was difficult given the pandemic-influenced job market and political polarization affecting local governments nationwide. Treece said those factors meant the council had to make a decision now instead of waiting.
"The landscape of positions like this has changed over the last few years," Treece said. "As we know, today we're in a very competitive labor market, and the political climate around these positions has also changed, with polarization increasing and a lack of civil discourse at times. Combined, it has discouraged a lot of individuals from applying. And as a council, we felt this search would not be any different."
Seewood was city manager in Ferguson, Missouri, from 2015 until 2019. Before that Seewood was the village manager for the Village of Richton Park, Illinois, manager for the City of Berkley, Missouri, and assistant city manager in Ferguson.
Seewood said in accepting the position that Columbia has the offerings of a big city but a "small town heart."
He will be Columbia's first Black city manager.
Seewood's annual starting salary will be $200,000.
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