City manager battle of galactic proportions
by Marguerite Cline
April 04, 2014 12:00 AM | 5602 views | 12 12 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Canton City Council members have been battling again. As usual everyone lost, especially the citizens of Canton. Billy Peppers, recommended by the search committee to be the new city manager, has withdrawn his name.

He was a victim of circumstances that have nothing to do with him. It was par-for-the-course for some members of the council who keep feuding while they are supposedly representing the will of those who elected them to office.

This latest fiasco began at the first meeting of the new year when City Manager Scott Wood saw the writing on the proverbial wall and tendered his resignation. The mayor and some of the council members were elated. Others were angered. As usual, they had a heated discussion.

Before Mr. Wood arrived on the scene, his past history in city government had preceded him. It was not a total bed of roses and some objected to his getting the position. In other words, he arrived with baggage.

When he left the city manager of Canton’s office, Mr. Wood had acquired additional baggage.

Strange as it seemed, one member of the council was named as interim city manager at a salary of $10,000 per month.

As expected, the vacancy was advertised. Although the discord between the mayor and some of the council members is well known, there was no shortage of applicants.

One of those applicants was Canton resident Billy Peppers.

The plan was that search committee members would review applications and interview applicants. Then, a finalist(s) would be announced. Next, the finalist(s) would meet with the full city council in executive session before a final vote was taken.

Part of that happened. The search committee reviewed the applications, conducted interviews and made their recommendation. In a press conference called by Mayor Gene Hobgood, it was announced there was one finalist — Billy Peppers.

At the press conference, Mayor Hobgood spoke of Billy Peppers’ strengths — knowledge of the area, good rapport with the people of Canton and experience with city, county and state government. He also cited Peppers’ enthusiasm and successful track record working in the city of Woodstock and now as director of the Georgia Office of Downtown Development.

If you saw the picture of Billy Peppers in this newspaper when the announcement was made, you saw a clean-cut young man excited about what lay ahead. But that was not to be.

If things had gone as planned, the full council would have met with Billy Peppers and had the opportunity to learn more about him.

True to form — almost immediately — criticism and objections to Billy Peppers’ nomination came from some council members.

They had already made up their minds and were vocal about their objections. Billy Peppers was too young. His experience in city government was too limited. There were claims that the process through which he was selected the finalist was not done correctly, etc.

That was when he, an excellent candidate, withdrew his application.

It is telling that some of the members of the council who attacked his nomination had never had a conversation with him. Others had never met him.

If they had controlled themselves until the scheduled meeting for them to meet with him, they might have learned things about him that would have given them second thoughts.

He is mature beyond his years. His ability to remain calm in difficult circumstances, work well with others — even when he does not agree with them — and be respectful to everyone are attributes badly needed by a city manager.

Those who snubbed him for the position — and publicly embarrassed him and his family — probably have no idea of how involved he is in Canton and Cherokee County. From the Chamber of Commerce to the Historical Society, he is well known. His skills have been recognized and enhanced through memberships in Leadership Cherokee and Leadership Georgia.

Now, a man with energy, enthusiasm, good character and a record of success has decided he does not want to be a part of the constant infighting. With his contacts at the state level and his experience in city government, chances are he would have been an excellent leader for the city.

What happens next in Canton’s quest for a city manager? Does anyone know? One thing is for sure. The council members will never totally agree on who gets the job or much of anything else. In the meantime, the interim city manager/council member will continue to get $10,000 per month.

To quote somewhat from the movie “Star Wars,” when someone is selected to be the city manager, “May the force be with him.”

Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Spin Away
April 09, 2014
It sure must be great to have decades long friends with access to the media! They can spin the accounts of events in your favor whenever you make a mistake. Ms. Cline's article blatantly attempts to point the finger of blame for Mr. Pepper's embarrassment away from the person responsible for it. The four councilmen who expressed concerns are no shrinking violets. They freely state their opinions. It is unlikely that they failed to share their concerns with the committee members BEFORE the candidate's name was announced. These men had no reason to needlessly harm Mr. Peppers. Yet someone chose to move forward and virtually guarantee the candidate's embarrassment. Who was that? Spin away, Ms. Cline!
Ron Frye
April 07, 2014
The latest in the progression of depression, forced on the citizens of Canton, by the few officials that can't see past their pay check.

Meaning, the citizens of Canton are losing additional tax revenue, new enterprises, new jobs, new growth, yet these council members, continue to receive their pay.

Hummm maybe the city of Canton should adopt the "performance based" pay method for their council, either, revenue and new business and growth numbers are realized or they get, NO PAY.

Yes, Canton has a few successful starts, new eateries, couple of new enterprise openings.

However, these are not the result of having the full support of the city council, just the opposite, the city council attempts to make it very difficult for these few to succeed.

The few new starts we do have in the downtown area, are to be applauded and supported.

Their success is due to their hard work and willingness to continue to strive for success while having their growth potential stymied by a few city council members.

These enterprises have a vision for the downtown area that could easily be found in the Woodstock City area,,, now wonder who was largely responsible for that??? Would someone pass me the Pepper please??

Judy Needham
April 05, 2014
What happened to we are not to judge? I know from experience you cannot judge a book by it's cover. Oh, there goes that word judge again. Do not take the word of someone else!!!!! Sat down and talk to the person running and get to know them yourself. You cannot agree when you do not listen to what they say. I have had the same problem threw out my life. Give each and everyone your complete attention and respect that they deserve. To this day I still do not get this from some people that I grew up with. We must learn from our own mistakes.
Get a Clue
April 05, 2014
How have you all formed your opinions of the job Mr. Cummins is doing as city manager? From reading the news articles? I suggest you do some better research. Speak with the department heads and other employees at city hall. Ask what they think of his management style compared to that of his predecessor. Then bother to attend a council meeting or even view it online. See how much of the backlog of necessary city work is being taken care of now. Criticism is easy to express without knowing the facts, but doing so only makes the critic look foolish.

As Joe Johnson has written several times, if you want to get to the root of the council disfunction, look for the common denominator during the past 3 councils and you will have your answer.
John Joeson
April 07, 2014
Joe Johnson? As is the online philosopher that is known for carrying on conversations with himself and other fictitious rants? His "facts" are fuzzy fiction at best.
April 09, 2014
Methinks Joe Johnson penned the tome above in praise of himself. Ego is a curious thing Billy.
Sad City Resident
April 04, 2014
Well said, Ms. Cline. As a city resident, I usually don't say a lot. I am ashamed of our leadership at this point and the way that they have acted. I am glad the new members are there and look forward to what they can do for us.
April 04, 2014
Mr Cummins has much in common with Mr Putin. Assuming authority by fiat, passing down decrees, assuming he is the only person that both matters and that is capable of governing. Watch out Holly Springs or he will attempt to seize your city like Putin took Crimea!

He should go back to his own webpage and read his campaign promises - most of which are broken. Typical Canton politician who needs to go - quickly. He almost makes me miss Billy B and his band of brothers.
April 04, 2014
Time for Glen to go. He is getting rich off of our money.
April 04, 2014
What are this guys qualifications to be a City Manager? If Glen wants to keep the position he should be made to resign his council seat.
Sherri Cloud
April 04, 2014
Well said. A total embarrassment and very poorly handled. Billy Peppers would have been an excellent choice if given a chance.
Battlestar Galactica
April 04, 2014
Leave it to Marguerite to hit the proverbial nail on the head! Thank you for you insights, and I could not agree more.
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