ALBANY, GA (WALB) - For the first time, we're hearing from Lonnie Ballard, who withdrew his name from consideration as Albany's Deputy City Manager. Ballard issued a statement following a controversial process that left some commissioners and many taxpayers concerned.
Lonnie Ballard has continued to decline our requests to talk. But the Tallahassee Assistant City Manager issued a statement about his decision to withdraw his name as Albany's Deputy City Manager. In it, he says, "When recently contacted about coming back to Albany, I was admittedly caught off guard having left recently. After careful consideration, I decided to honor my commitment to Tallahassee."
WALB News 10 broke the news Thursday that Ballard decided not to take the job. "It does surprise me. It's a little controversial, but again, it's about the process," said Albany City Commissioner BJ Fletcher.
A process that may have pushed Ballard away.
"We can speculate all day long, but I don't have any solid reason why he withdrew his name," said Fletcher.
Earlier this week commissioners voted five to two to create this position specifically for Ballard. Interim City Manager Tom Berry recommended the move, wanting Ballard to take over for him after he leaves.
"He didn't do anything wrong. And to be honest with you he probably could have brought Mr. Ballard on without our consent. I think he was trying to be respectful to the commission," explained Fletcher.
A lot of questions still remain, including whether they'll keep the deputy city manager position. We waited for Berry at his office, but were told he would not be returning for the rest of the day.
"I want to again take Mr. Berry's lead, but it is really not up to the city manager to find his replacement," said Fletcher. "I want to do it the right way. I want to sit on a commission that does it the right way, that values the taxpayer."
Values the taxpayer and conducts a proper search to find the next leader of Albany.
We've also reached out to other commissioners. Jon Howard responded with this statement: "I think Lonnie Ballard was concerned about not getting an unanimous vote from the commission and the process was an issue for him to leave a progressive city, come back to Albany with lots of uncertainty with images and leadership. He was concerned that his qualifications were an issue with a few commissioners. I think his resume was outstanding and superb."
Official Statement from Lonnie Ballard:
Albany is a great town with good people. When recently contacted about coming back to Albany, I was admittedly caught off guard having left recently.
After careful consideration, I decided to honor my commitment to Tallahassee.
Tallahassee has proven to be a wonderful home with many opportunities to contribute my talent and energy.
I appreciate the confidence that the Interim City Manager, Mayor and Albany City Commission have in my leadership. I wish only the best for the citizens of Albany.