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Mayor, councilors refute role in city manager’s resignation – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

By on June 19, 2021 0

The resignation of Ashland City Manager pro tem Adam Hanks revealed a rift between city councilors and the mayor’s office and sparked a scramble to figure out how to fill the city manager position. photo file

The resignation of Ashland City Manager pro tem Adam Hanks exposed a rift between city councilors and the mayor’s office and sparked a scramble to figure out how to fill the city manager position.

Hanks announced on Wednesday that he would resign effective August 6, a month after City Attorney David Lohman’s last day on duty.

Councilor Stephen Jensen claimed Mayor Julie Akins and two city councilors are responsible for critical staff members who left the ship, which all three refuted in a joint statement.

Jensen said dishonesty, sprinkling with staff members and irresponsible city governance “squarely” put Hanks’ resignation at their feet.

In a statement, Akins and councilors Shaun Moran and Gina DuQuenne said they were building on Hanks and Lohman’s experience over the past six months and were “surprised by their decisions” to step down.

Akins, Moran and DuQuenne denied accusations that they were dishonest or personally attacked staff, and claimed that Jensen “had not cooperated in seeking ways for the council to work together.”

“City attorney David Lohman retired like a lot of people,” DuQuenne said. “Councilor Jensen’s audacity to make false statements about my character is appalling and totally against the city’s code of conduct. “

Jensen said the statements by the mayor and councilors deviated from what staff had endured.

When asked what she does well and what she could improve on in regards to relations with city staff, Akins said she frequently seeks advice from city council on requests for commission, listened to advice and strove to maintain a sense of humility.

“Whoever is new to the presidency, after someone has held it for 12 years, that kind of change, there will always be growing pains for everyone,” Akins said, referring to his tenure as mayor and the circumstances of a pandemic and recent change in the form of governance. ” It is not easy. There are people who are going to think that there are things I could do better, and I don’t blame them.

Councilor Paula Hyatt said that in the short time she got to know Hanks, he quickly displayed invaluable insight and knowledge and earned the respect of his peers.

“With the departure of two critical employees recently, it reminds me of an early career lesson from a human resources expert: Employees leave managers, not companies,” Hyatt said, citing research that shows that a mismanagement is a key factor in staff turnover.

City staff seek professional growth, respect and appreciation as valuable team members – necessary leadership characteristics for effective recruitment and retention, she said.

Councilor Tonya Graham said the staff who have skillfully navigated the city through simultaneous emergencies, including Hanks, “don’t deserve to be disrespected the way they have been.”

The urgency of filling the two positions to maintain essential services avoids investing time in fiscal management, social equity, economic development, climate change, infrastructure and homelessness, she said. .

“I am deeply saddened for our city by his departure, but I fully understand why he is leaving an organization he loves,” Graham said. “With the departure of Mr. Hanks, so soon after Mr. Lohman’s resignation, the city no longer has the capacity to move forward in a way that gets things done on these issues. “

The mayor works closely with the city manager to set agendas and progress on the city’s issues, and speaks primarily for the city as a whole, she said.

“The city government of Ashland is in crisis because of the behavior of our mayor and two councilors, who together have created a toxic work environment for our staff,” Graham said. “While the mayor of Ashland no longer hires and fires fire chiefs, they play a vital role in building healthy relationships between council and staff. “

Graham said board meeting discussions often disrespect staff members. She called on Akins to come forward as a positive role model for everyone at the meeting, correct the record when misstatements are made, step in if advisers campaign during meetings, and “stop editing” questions. advice.

Contact Ashland Tidings reporter Allayana Darrow at [email protected] or 541-776-4497.

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