Dover finds new city manager in Robertson

DOVER — The city of Dover went outside of the box when it partnered with independent consulting firm The Mercer Group in its search for a new city manager.

City officials said they wanted to conduct a broad national search for their ideal candidate, and not necessarily just another person already employed within the city.

Randy E. Robertson

The City Manager Selection Committee evidently found the person they were looking for when the city announced on Tuesday that it had hired Randy E. Robertson for the position that was vacated when former City Manager Donna Mitchell announced her retirement in October.

“We are eager to hear more of Mr. Robertson’s ideas and to gain a fresh perspective on Dover,” said Council President Bill Hare, in a statement. “He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that we believe will serve Dover very well.”

Mr. Robertson is an experienced city manager, as well as a retired U.S. Army officer and senior federal employee. He will bring several decades of senior leadership and management experience to Dover, including serving as a city manager in Ashland, Kentucky; Mt. Juliet, Tennessee; Vestavia Hills, Alabama; and Cordova, Alaska. He most recently had been city manager in Aberdeen, Maryland since 2016.

Council President Hare and Kim Hawkins, the city’s Human Resources director, were asked by the selection committee to move forward with extending a written offer to Mr. Robertson following an executive session on Dec. 8. The offer was extended on Dec. 9 and accepted by Mr. Robertson, who will begin his new role as Dover’s city manager in February 2021.

City Councilman Roy Sudler Jr. was impressed with the way Mr. Robertson presented himself and his experience.

“Mr. Randy E. Robertson’s keen intelligence to exhibit practical organizational senior leadership and management skills will aid the city of Dover as we transition from a transactional to a transformational leadership culture in governing our workforce and city,” Councilman Sudler said in a statement. “I know that the city manager’s selection process was fair, successful and feasible for all stakeholders.

“In other words, the City Manager’s Selection Committee represented the most distinguished form of due diligence as we aimed to achieve an irreproachable hiring process. In sum, I congratulate Mr. Randy E. Robertson on being picked as our new city manager and look forward to serving with him in achieving our government/workforce goals.”

Mr. Robertson holds a bachelor’s degree in government and history from Western Kentucky University and three master’s degrees: one in urban planning from John Hopkins University, one in public administration from Western Kentucky University and one in strategic planning from the U.S. Army War College.

Members of the interview committee included Council President Hare, Councilman Sudler, Councilman David Anderson, Councilman Fred Neil and Mrs. Hawkins.

Applications for the position were by due Sept. 18 and the committee was provided a list of semifinalists on Oct. 8. Over the next couple of weeks, background and reference checks were completed and the search committee started interviewing Oct. 21. Interviews with seven candidates were held Oct. 21-22 with final interviews on Nov. 20.

Assistant City Manager Matt Harline was named temporary city manager effective Oct. 15 with a 5% pay increase until the new city manager is put in place.

Mrs. Mitchell had served as Dover’s city manager the past two-and-a-half years before retiring on Oct. 30. She had worked for the city for more than 30 years in different capacities before stepping down.

The Mercer Group, incorporated in the state of Georgia, headed the recruitment process to find a diverse pool of qualified candidates for the position.

Councilman Ralph Taylor Jr. said the candidates that they provided allowed the process to proceed rather smoothly.

“I think the process was very fair and very balanced,” said Councilman Taylor. “Bringing in an outside agency allowed us the opportunity to not have to worry about any unfair play. No personalities were brought into it and we didn’t have to worry about anything other than having the absolute best candidates before us and it was an enjoyable process.”