ALBANY — After meeting with Mayor Dorothy Hubbard Tuesday night, Tom Berry confirmed Wednesday that he has accepted the nomination to serve as the city’s interim city manager.
In a surprise move, Berry was nominated to serve in that position Tuesday after the Albany City Commission voted to accept James Taylor’s letter of resignation. Berry received the four votes needed for the nomination from Hubbard and commissioners Bob Langstaff, Bobby Coleman and B.J. Fletcher.
“I told Mayor Hubbard that I have accepted the position, and she’s contacting the commissioners now, I guess,” Berry said Wednesday. “I think there is a plan to hold a meeting (with the commission) pretty soon.”
Berry said his past relationship with the city’s Water, Gas & Light Commission was the main factor in his decision.
“I see (the city manager’s position) as an extension of that job,” he said. “There are good folks in Albany. This is a good community. I want to do everything I can to help the community move forward.”
Hubbard said Berry’s experience is what makes him the right person to fill the void left by Taylor’s resignation. She said she wants to work with him, the Water, Gas & Light Commission and with the City Commission to achieve one of her primary goals: the elimination of property taxes within the city limits.
“That has always been one of my goals as mayor, and I believe Tom can help us achieve it,” Hubbard said Wednesday morning. “His experience means everything when it comes to moving the city forward.
“I’ll tell you what I think happened here. I think Tom secretly fell in love with Albany. With his experience and at this point in his life, I can promise you he’s not doing this for the money. I think he’s ready to work with the commission to make us what we can be.”
Two of the four commissioners called out by Berry during his resignation announcement from his position as interim WG&L general manager said Wednesday they’re willing to work with Berry.
“To use a cliche, I’m going to keep an open mind,” Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta said. “Really, I have no choice but to work with Tom, but I like him and I know I can work with him. Honestly, until he dropped that big bomb, I was a fan of Tom’s.”
Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell said he expects to have a one-on-one conversation with Berry to clear the air.
“I understand people saying things out of frustration,” the 12-year commissioner said. “But sometimes when that happens, you end up eating crow. I have nothing against Tom; he has some good attributes. If his primary goal is to benefit the city — which is what I’ve always done — then I’m certainly willing to work with him.”
Ward III Commissioner B.J. Fletcher, who nominated Berry to replace Taylor, said she’s heard nothing but positive comments from the community since word filtered out that Berry had been nominated for the city manager position.
“Someone like Tom Berry is going to help us attract the young minds, the millennials, and that’s important to our community,” Fletcher said. “That’s who we want to turn this city over to: the Jay Sharpes and Melissa Strothers and Chad Warbingtons of the community.
“I sincerely believe that you now have in place six city commissioners, a mayor and a city manager who have this city’s best interest at heart. Each commissioner brings his or her own unique talent and passion to the table, and I have no doubt that we will all work together.”
Berry is expected to meet with commissioners at some point today. He will attend the annual Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia meeting next week and is expected to move into the city manager’s position some time after that.