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Galesburg hires new city manager on split vote

Jane Carlson

The Galesburg city council approved the hiring of Gerald Smith to be the new city manager, though it was far from a unanimous vote.

The final tally was 4-to-3. Kevin Wallace, Dwight White, Jaclyn Smith-Esters, and Sarah Davis voted in favor of the hire, while Bradley Hix, Wayne Dennis, and Larry Cox voted no.

Cox said he hopes Smith does well, but he thinks the compensation package is too large.

“Starting Mr. Smith at what I believe is basically the top of the salary range does not leave any room for pay raises for good work in the future,” Cox said.

Smith’s starting salary will be $165,000, and his total compensation package adds up to $171,093.

Previous City Manager Todd Thompson left in the spring to become Rock Island’s city manager. His final salary in Galesburg was $166,862, and his total compensation package amounted to $179, 222.

Smith-Esters said that means the city will be saving a bit of money. And she noted the cost of living has been rising.

“Going to the grocery store alone has been an increasing amount of money (from) my pocket. So I’m a 100% yes. I think this is a fair price,” she said.

And Mayor Peter Schwartzman pointed out the city advertised the position with a salary range of $150,000 to $165,000.

“That was based upon current conditions and what other city managers are expecting currently. There aren’t as many people qualified for the job as you might think,” Schwartzman said.

“In our application documents we asked the candidates to express what their salary needs would be. They all did, and this gentleman asked for this amount and this is the amount that he is being offered.”

In a release, the city said Gerald Smith has worked in public administration for more than 25 years, serving in positions such as City Manager, Department Director, and Assistant City Manager.

He will begin in Galesburg in the next 30 to 45 days.

Smith was chosen after the city’s original choice withdrew to remain with their current employer.

Wayne Carl has been serving as Galesburg’s interim city manager. He will return to his previous position of Director of Public Works once Smith begins.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.