The resignation of Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce on Friday was undoubtedly a difficult decision, but it was also the right one if he and Council believe he can no longer be effective.
It’s now time for City Council to pick up the pieces, move forward and find someone who can comfortably take over that role.
Losing a manager won’t be easy for the City, particularly in the short-term, and Pearce likely didn’t envision his tenure ending as such. But it’s evident that some on Council – who hired Pearce in 2011 – had lost faith in his ability to effectively manage City affairs.
Also, for the record, the roughly $80,000 golden parachute Pearce received is fair and par for the course in such dealings for both municipal and private corporations parting ways with their chief executive officer. The sum allowed all parties to agree on the resignation rather than a protracted and potentially scarring termination process that would have taken weeks. It would also involve the airing of a long lists of disagreements and shortcomings in the eyes of the body who hired Pearce in the first place.
We ultimately hope the transition to a new manager can be a smooth one. We also encourage Council to take its time in the hiring process.
When former City Manager Roger LeDuc retired from the City in 2011, the City went through a plethora of applications before hiring Pearce.
That’s the fairest method for the City to choose, even if it’s ultimately an in-house selection. We also urge Council to give strong consideration to candidates who are already familiar with the community, and bring an open and transparent outlook to government. That kind of perspective will help to effectively guide the City, and will be best for Council, as well as taxpayers.
It is clear that Pearce butted heads with Council members during his tenure as manager.
Recently, he took significant heat after the lengthy cleanup of debris stemming from February’s Winter Storm Pax. After the Aiken Standard talked to Council members and residents, it was obvious that some perceived Pearce mismanaged the process, and wasn’t completely truthful. Some Council members, for instance, specifically said they didn’t believe Pearce’s version of the events.
However, it’s hard to completely tell what went into Pearce’s decision to resign, particularly with Council being allowed under state law to discuss personnel matters behind closed doors.
He’s been with the City for 15 years, and made a lot of decisions during his almost three years as manager – some obviously better than others. He’ll ultimately be judged by the results he had for the City.
Now, it’s time for Council to find someone new who can be an effective administrator, and move the City forward in the future.
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