Special session scheduled
Updated: Tuesday, 25 Aug 2009, 7:30 AM EDT
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News City Council has begun the process to remove its current city manager, Randy Hildebrandt.
Hildebrandt is expected to speak publicly for the first time since council members voted to remove him on August 11.
Newport News Mayor Joe Frank and City Council debated Hildebrandt's future during a two hour, closed-door session shortly before noon on Monday.
"It was a difficult decision for everyone," said Frank. "I think people really did agonize over it."
Council decided it was time for a change. They began the process to remove Hildebrandt from the position he's held since 2006.
"Frankly, I think that he has served the city very well, but at the end of that discussion was the fact that the majority of City Council needs to feel comfortable working with whoever their City Manager is," added Frank.
Several council members weren't happy with Hildebrandt's performance. WAVY.com obtained a copy of the notice council gave to Hildebrandt . In it they say they weren't satisfied with his overall managerial style and he didn't share the focus of the majority. Some even say they lost confidence in his ability to serve.
"They recognize the many contributions he made to the community, but at the same time they felt it was time for a new vision and new leadership," said Frank.
The council was spilt on the decision: Four votes for his removal and three against. Those who wanted to see him go had nothing to say to WAVY.com.
Hildebrant has been placed on administrative leave. WAVY.com has learned Deputy City Manager Neil Morgan will take over until the city finds a permanent replacement.
Hildebrandt did not make a public statement but sent this letter to his fellow city workers thanking them for their service:
Dear Fellow Employees:
Now that the City Council has given me formal notice of their intent to dismiss me as City Manager, it is apparent that my 31-year tenure with our City government is about to come to a close. With this in mind, I want to take this last opportunity to thank all of you for the excellent work you do in serving this community. I am proud of what we have accomplished in the three-and-a-half years that I have served as your City Manager. I do believe we have been successful in making this an organization which is recognized for its "commitment, caring and collaboration." We have faced and overcome some difficult challenges due to the economy and I am optimistic that the worst is now behind us.
I am especially pleased with the progress that has been made in changing the culture of our organization through WINN. While this change may not yet be apparent to everyone and there is much more to be done, we have made a very good start. I urge each of you to stay focused on our vision and values because this is what will make this City government special and allows you to serve our citizens and customers in the best possible way.
While I regret that I will not be here longer to lead this change, I will be watching from the sideline with great interest as the organization continues this journey. I sincerely appreciate all of the kindness and support you have provided to me over the years. While I have not had the opportunity to know or even meet all of you, I have the utmost respect and admiration for your commitment to making Newport News the very best place it can be.
Randy W. Hildebrandt
Hildebrandt will have a hearing August 25, where he will have a chance to address the City Council.
Click here to read Hildebrandt's full biography.