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Newport City Council Poised to Hire New City Manager Without Municipal Experience, Passing Over 23-Year Experienced Candidate

In a move that has stirred controversy and raised eyebrows among residents and officials alike, the Newport City Council is on the brink of hiring a new City Manager with zero municipal experience. The candidate, Colin Kennedy, a retiring Naval Commander, is said to have been offered an annual salary of $225,000. However, this decision appears to directly contravene Newport City Charter Section 5.1, which mandates that the City Manager must possess municipal experience.

Section 5.1:

The Council is authorized and directed to enter into an agreement, for such term as the Council may specify, for the engagement of a person selected on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications and experience in and the knowledge of generally accepted practices in municipal administration to act as City Manager.

Leading the charge for this controversial hiring choice is Mayor Xaykham Rexford Khamsyvoravong. The decision to overlook Laura Sitrin, the current interim city manager boasting 23 years of municipal experience, has raised significant concerns within the community. Sitrin, a Newport resident, has been interim manager for 10 months and most recently spearheaded the implementation of a two-tiered property tax rate, which offers significant reductions in annual property tax bills for Newport locals.

Sitrin’s qualifications stand in stark contrast to those of Kennedy, whose biggest job to date is overseeing the Naval Reserve Travel Office at the Newport Naval Base. With a staff of 20 full-time employees and a budget considerably smaller than that of Newport’s annual budget, questions arise about his preparedness to manage a complex city with approximately 350 full-time employees and an annual budget totaling $115 million.

Mayor Khamsyvoravong has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday night immediately following the regular 6:30pm Newport City Council meeting to jam this hiring through.

Newporters await further developments, hopeful for a resolution that prioritizes adherence to the city charter and the selection of a qualified candidate capable of effectively stewarding Newport’s challenging municipal operations.

Contact Mayor Xaykham Rexford Khamsyvoravong and let him know where you stand on this issue.

City Hall:  (401) 845-5436


UPDATE: In the closed door executive session, Khamsyvoravong, Aramli, McCalla, and Holder voted for Kennedy.

Ceglie, Carlin, and Napolitano voted to support Sitrin.




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