A few thoughts on Stephanie Cutter becoming Savannah’s permanent city manager

Another fine, thorough piece of reporting from Lesley Conn today, Stephanie Cutter to be named Savannah city manager:

Savannah City Council members are prepared Thursday to name Stephanie Cutter city manager.

Cutter was named acting city manager Oct. 4 after council, in a split vote, accepted the resignation of Rochelle Small-Toney.

The entire piece is well worth reading.

I have not met Stephanie Cutter, but there are a few things that seem obvious. She’s a capable manager. She has run the city for a little over six months with essentially no drama. I haven’t heard anything negative said about her by city employees — not a word. She has successfully won the confidence of the vast majority –if not all — of the members of city council.

Cutter also does not seem to be an ideologue or someone unwilling to revisit current policies and former decisions.

That flexibility will be critical to maintain. Especially since Cutter has been with the city for many years, she could fall into a defensive posture and not be able to respond adequately when city personnel prove inadequate or policies are clearly not working. The city is bringing on a new revenue director, for example, who will almost certainly want to see some changes to the current alcohol ordinance, which has many problematic elements. How will Cutter handle the prospect of changing policies that were once pushed by current council members?

I’ll add that I’m certainly not sorry to see us avoid another national search, which would almost certainly get wrapped up in issues of race.

And I hope that those who thought that the widespread opposition to Small-Toney was due only to racism and/or sexism are paying close attention to the support that Cutter has won in recent months. Small-Toney had an even longer period of time in which to win over the public and council.