More than five months after Clai Brown resigned as Avondale Estates City Manager, the city announced Tuesday that Patrick Bryant is the sole finalist as his replacement. Bryant was previously the city manager in Talladega, Ala., though he was terminated without cause in June.
“The short story is, I had to make a personnel decision,” Bryant said when reached by phone Tuesday. “I had to terminate a city staffer, a decision that was really a no brainer. But [the staffer] was popular in the community and popular with the council.”
Bryant was terminated without cause — or without any stated or proven reason and not performance related — by 3-1 Talladega council vote.
Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore didn’t return calls/text from the AJC asking for comment Monday or Tuesday.
According to Alan Reddish, a senior vice president with the Athens-based Mercer Group, which conducted Avondale’s manager search, the city fielded 49 applications, 18 with “Georgia experience.” That list was whittled to five, each receiving interviews by the city’s commission on July 24.
Reddish said that Mercer conducted extensive background searches on the final five, including reference checks, criminal record checks, credit checks, checks on internet/social media activity and confirmation of education and work history.
“I believe they’ve chosen a good five,” Reddish said last week before the interviews. “I’m confident they’ll find a good manager.”
Bryant, 37, was occasionally in the news during his three years in Talladega. In 2015 he fired a white city police officer for sharing racist posts on his (the officer’s) Facebook page. This time last year Bryant was one of the three finalists to be the first city manager ever in Pelham, Al., but didn’t get the job.
Born and raised in Birmingham, he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s (in public administration) from the University Alabama-Birmingham. After graduation he spent 15 months as a Local Government Fellow in Douglas County, Nevada (home of Lake Tahoe). He then spent seven years (2008-15) as an administrative analyst for the city manager’s office in Santa Clarita, California.
“It appears my philosophy is similar [to Avondale’s board],” Bryant said. “We both want smart growth, or development that doesn’t negatively impact the community’s identity. This could include taking some chances that others haven’t taken.”
Bryant can’t officially be named a finalist until August 14, when it’s likely terms of his contract will be announced. He said he expects to start work in mid September.
In a strange sequence of events Clai Brown, who grew up in Avondale Estates and whose father was city manager for 46 years, suddenly resigned last Dec. 6. He then rescinded his resignation on Jan. 11 before ultimately agreeing to a final separation with the city on Feb. 14.
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