Harry Walker, the proposed city manager in waiting, attended the last council meeting in which council voted to "delete the item" or table it from the agenda at the April 11 meeting. Walker sat quietly in the front row while members of the public spoke against him for the city manager position.
City council voted 5 to 2 with Council members Kurt Schenk and Patsy Ray wanting to take the vote immediately. Both indicated their vote would be for Walker. Later in the meeting during the council's comment section, Council President Kareem Johnson also said he believed Walker would eventually get his vote for manager. That only leaves one vote needed to confirm Walker at a subsequent meeting.
Councilman Marty Eggleston admitted not going to Walker's interview because he was "unimpressed with his resume." Stephanie Downridge-Smith urged council to continue looking for candidates and to have scheduled meetings where all council members had a chance to interview all of the candidates. Since January, Robin Scott has voted as part of council's new majority. From indications given at the last city council meeting, it could come down to Robin Scott's vote for Walker's appointment as City Manager.
At the April 11 meeting, all but two residents who approached the podium to speak to city council about the managerial selection asked council members to take their time in finding a new city manager.
Businessman Ted Skiadas said, "I would have spent more time looking for a manager than you did looking for a city manager."
Many residents expressed concerns from published reports stemming from Walker's time in Wilmington, Delaware. Another resident urged council to find a city manager with "impeccable character."
In an interview immediately after that meeting, Walker was asked, "Do you still want the job?"
Walker responded, "I am not sure." He said he felt the meeting was an attack on his character. During the same interview, Walker admitted not reading published reports containing a litany of questionable credit card expenses totaling over $10,000 including a Christmas party and a tuxedo rental. Walker blamed the Wilmington credit card problems as stemming from a new auditor whose process differed from the normal standard operating procedure within Wilmington's administration at the time.
At one point, Walker exclaimed, "The mayor was the biggest offender" over the credit card issue. The tuxedo rental he felt was a legitimate city charge because the mayor had asked him to attend a function at the last minute and he needed the tuxedo. According to published reports, Walker's problem was not just the expense, it was that he did not supply receipts or an expense report for those charges. Walker also stressed in his defense, "No criminal charges were filed" against him.
Walker was Wilmington's Economic Development Director for two years ending in 2000. Then, Mayor James Sills, according to the News Journal of Wilmington, asked Walker to resign because of the city's economic development's lack of progress. That is the exact same issue used against Coatesville's now former city manager, E. Jean Krack.
Walker said he had accomplishments while in Wilmington. One attribute of his tenure included standing up to pressure including that of then Governor Tom Carper's office because he always "did what was best for the residents of Wilmington." Walker feels he is able to get the job done.
City officials have stated there were two other candidates for the city managerial position. There has been no word as to the names of the other candidates. Council will need to vote on the city manager position to make it official.