Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:07 AM
Published on: Thursday, July 18, 2013
By Donna Broadway
TAKOMA PARK – After a nine-month search, the city of Takoma Park has a new city manager.
Brian Kenner, the chief operating officer for the Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development for Washington, began his new job as Takoma Park city manager June 23.
“We believe that Mr. Kenner's strengths in the area of public-private partnerships, budget and finance, and economic development are well suited to provide the city with the leadership needed as we move into the future,” said Mayor Bruce Williams. “Mr. Kenner brings a wealth of experience in the areas of strategic planning, staff relations and collaboration as well. We believe that his addition will be beneficial for our community.”
The selection process began with a committee of citizens who created criteria based on factors such as financial and government experience.
The search was opened to applicants outside of Takoma Park. Deputy City Manager Suzanne Ludlow, who served as acting city manager until Kenner arrived, was among 70 applicants from as far away as California to apply for the position. Kenner was chosen from five finalists.
“I think the first thing I said I was going to do during the interview process was really going out and listening to the community stake holders, the councilmembers, listening to the agency directors, hearing what they think about how things are going, where there are challenges, or opportunities, I really think that is where I can be helpful is in trying to deal with things people think can be challenging also trying to bring structure to be supportive of additional opportunities that can brought up here in Takoma Park,” Kenner said.
Kenner, an Iowa native who lives in Washington with his wife, received his B.A. in biology in 1996 and a master’s of public policy in financial analysis and economic development from Harvard University in 1998. Kenner moved to Washington after receiving a presidential management fellowship that afforded him the opportunity to work for several agencies in the federal government.
Kenner also has experience in housing privatization, creating affordable housing and working with foreclosed properties.
At his most recent job, Kenner managed more than 60 employees, and he handled an operating budget of $42 million and a capital budget of more than $160 million. He also served as the chief real estate, policy, budget and operations adviser to the deputy mayor for planning and economic development.
Kenner said one of his first tasks is to hold meetings with citizens, shareholders, employees and elected officials to find out their opinions on things that are working in the city and things that may need improvement. Through his research, Kenner learned there is a high level of satisfaction with city services. Kenner is still meeting with citizens to determine the city’s needs.
“We are a government and we are paid by residents and tax payers, and so ultimately, I have to judge, and I think every city manager has to judge and every city employee, at least a part of their success on how responsive are we to the community in which we serve, how satisfied are residents with the services,” Kenner said. “That has got to be a large part of how I would judge success. On the other side, where there are additional opportunities that haven’t been as concretely explored today that they put the city in a good position a few years from now some of the long term more strategic things, which I will be collecting information on as I continue this job.”