D’Agostino impressed some, but not all, council members

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 10:40 AM

Almost a year after the departure of Wayne Herron, Monroe City Council hired John D'Agostino as the new city manager by a 5-2 vote. 

Many council members are pleased and confident with their decision, while others feel there are better fits. 

Council member Lynn Keziah, who voted for D'Agostino, said he was impressed by his experience. 

"I thought he had a lot of experience and a good head on his shoulders," Keziah said. "I thought he would fit in."

Keziah said he thought they had three good candidates, but D'Agostino stood out. He said he could be a better fit than the first candidate they made an offer to. 

"I think he'll do a good job," Keziah said. "He brings a lot of experience with him. Hopefully he and staff can bring us back on track."

"I think we made a good decision," Keziah said. "You never know until the person's on board, but I feel comfortable with the decision and hopefully we can move on." 

Council member Margaret Desio was impressed by D'Agostino's education. He holds two master's degrees. 

"I also really liked his demeanor," Desio said. "He was serious without being stern. He understood our situation in Monroe. He and I talked at length about the problems our council has faced over the last 12 months."

Desio said he felt he could help them. 

Desio was not concerned by the lawsuits and problems in former towns.

"If you are in municipal government you are going to have these problems," she said. She felt lawsuits were pretty typical.

Desio hopes he will be able to unite the council and help the city. 

"I hope he can help the City of Monroe to reach its fullest potential," Desio said. "I want Monroe to be the very best city we can be." 

Council member Dottie Nash did not vote for D'Agostino. She said she was concerned that being from outside of the area, it would take him a while to get acquainted with North Carolina law and they would be behind the curve. 

"I think we should have gone back out," Nash said. "I think (Greg Demko)'s doing a good job for us and he should have had some consideration."

Nash said that she met with D'Agostino and said he seemed "fine to talk to." She said she told him she would not be voting for his contract. 

Nash noted that D'Agostino was not in the first round of finalists, but the second.

"I just felt like there may have been other candidates out there that I think could have been a better fit for Monroe," Nash said. 

Nash said she plans to work with him, regardless of her vote. 

"I'm going to let him do his job," she said. "He's hired now, so I intend to do what I'm supposed to...he's here to do a job."

"You have to respect the decision of the council," she added. 

Council member John Ashcraft said he was looking for a candidate with 10 or 15 years of city manager experience, 

"What we really needed was someone who had been in that role and hit the bumps in the road and gone through the obstacles of being city manager," Ashcraft said. 

Ashcraft said he spoke with D'Agostino at length and that he is enthusiastic about coming to Monroe and Ashcrafdt is enthusiastic about hiring him. 

"I'm looking forward to (D'Agostino) coming on board," Ashcraft said. "I think he's going to be a good fit for Monroe, I feel comfortable about that."

Regarding lawsuits, Ashcraft said that almost every candidate had some sort of history. 

"Nobody's perfect, so I'm not too worried about that," he said. 

He noted that in looking through the history of choices, it appeared that anytime the city was sued, the manager was included. He was more interested in experience. 

D'Agostino will start as city manager on Aug. 12.

Council members Freddie Gordon and Billy Jordan and Mayor Bobby Kilgore could not be reached before press time.