“Otherwise we risk setting them up to fail,” Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg told council members.
To get to that point, the council could be looking at going through at least one consensus-building workshop in January moderated by a third-party professional facilitator.
The council will formally decide whether to hire the facilitator, or nix the idea altogether, during its Dec. 21 meeting.
Whatever the case, council members expressed certainty that hiring a new city manager marked a significant moment.
“This is one of the most important things we’ll do as a council,” Council Member Nathan Wesely said.
Discussion around hiring a new city manager has been on multiple council agendas since Hofmann’s departure, though it has been repeatedly pushed back due to long-running meetings.
Though the council did agree to move forward on considering a facilitator, Council Member Jim Hotze expressed skepticism about the need for such a workshop.
“We have some differences of opinions, but so far we’ve been able to go through a lot of our decisions and find compromise and listen to each other, and we’ve come up with some pretty good conclusions,” Hotze said.
Council Member Catherine Lewis recommended a date for a workshop be set as soon as feasible. Council Member Michael Fife, meanwhile, pushed for a safe in-person workshop to make it as effective as possible.
Council Member Neil Verma expressed optimism about the opportunity the group has been given.
“I’m confident we can get to the point where we arrive at what day-to-day leadership looks like,” Verma said.
Meanwhile, Brant Gary has been serving as interim city manager since Hofmann’s departure. Gary was appointed assistant city manager in December 2019 and also has served as the city’s public works director.