UPDATED 11:11 a.m. Wednesday.
CHAMPAIGN — Assistant City Manager Dorothy David could take over for City Manager Steve Carter after he retires in March.
City officials announced on Wednesday that they are negotiating a contract with David after having spent a week accepting applications for the job from internal candidates only. She was the lone internal applicant.
City officials have yet to search externally, but they say they have suspended the search for a new city manager pending the outcome of the negotiation with David.
"Champaign is a wonderful community and I am very proud to be a part of our city organization," David said in a statement. "I am grateful to the mayor and the city council for their offer to negotiate and their willingness to consider my candidacy for the city manager position."
Carter announced in October that he plans to retire on March 29 after 28 years as Champaign’s city manager. That is an unusually long tenure for those in the profession, and city council members generally said they want to continue Carter’s model for management.
David has worked for the city of Champaign since 1994. She served as neighborhood services director for 13 years before taking the assistant city manager job in 2007.
Here is a copy of the cover letter and resume David submitted.
City council member Michael La Due was around back when she was hired, and said she was a “standout candidate.”
“She embraced the neighborhood wellness concept that Steve Carter brought here,” La Due said. “That is the professional program hallmark that Steve created here. He brought the model of neighborhood wellness to the city.”
La Due said that model tries to balance the needs of everyone in the city equally.
“You can argue that we haven’t been as successful as we’d like to be,” La Due said. “But the council before didn’t have such a model, and the person that was brought to Champaign to think through these issues was Dorothy David.”
La Due said the internal search was enough to satisfy what he was looking for in a city manager candidate. He said “everyone in the profession was aware this vacancy was coming,” and the city council and members of the public had made it clear that they do not want to see much change at the top of city government.
“She’s worked intimately with Steve, more than just about anybody,” La Due said.
He said that to hire an external candidate and risk losing the model that Steve Carter created is not an idea he would like to entertain. He thinks David will pick up right where Carter leaves off.
“That is a valuable edifice that we don’t want dismantled,” La Due said.
Mayor Don Gerard called her “top notch,” and said he does not want to lose the momentum created within the past years.
“Right now, I think Champaign is just at a point of remarkable progress,” Gerard said. “I don’t think we have a year to wait for someone to get acclimated for the job.”
Like La Due, Gerard expects David to continue the city’s ongoing work.
“I think she’s just fantastic,” Gerard said. “She’s got great vision, she’s very prudent fiscally, she’s learned from Steve Carter. But she has a little bit different view. She came up through neighborhood services; she came from a different city.”
David worked in city government in Kansas City, Kan., and Muskegon, Mich., for a total of six years before arriving in Champaign. She has a total 25 years' experience in city government.
And Gerard points out that David will now have to hire someone as her assistant.
“Someone will come into that position with vision and talents,” Gerard said.