Saundra Kee Borges, who was named the city's chief operating officer in March pending city council approval, withdrew from consideration for the job Monday.
The council had been scheduled to vote on Kee Borges' appointment Monday night. Council members said she didn't have enough support to get the required approval for the job.
Kee Borges, has served as COO for more than seven months, starting in an interim appointment. She said Monday in a prepared statement that she had thought "long and hard about this decision." She didn't provide a reason for her withdrawal, and did not elaborate later Monday.
"This was not an easy decision, but it is the right one at this time," Kee Borges, 53, said in her statement. "I want to thank Mayor [Pedro] Segarra for his confidence in me and my leadership. At his request, I will stay on to assist with the transition and selection process of a permanent COO. I owe a lot to this city and it has been an honor for me to serve in this capacity."
Kee Borges has been the city's corporation counsel since 2010. Segarra appointed her as interim COO in September and named her to the permanent position in March.
"I think this was a good decision for her and for the city, given recent concerns," council President Shawn Wooden said Monday. "The council was not prepared to confirm her nomination. Now we're in a position to move forward in a different direction."
Segarra named retired Windsor Town Manager Albert G. Ilg, 79, as a special assistant to the COO. Ilg will work on a temporary, part-time basis, assisting with the transition and helping "design the process for the permanent COO selection," Segarra said in a statement. Ilg previously worked in Hartford as an interim city manager.
Council members have expressed disappointment recently in the city's management, particularly regarding spending issues such as awarding bonuses to some city employees and charging thousands of dollars for travel and dining to city-issued credit cards.
Maribel La Luz, Segarra's spokeswoman, said Monday that Kee Borges will continue as COO until a permanent one is named. She also will serve as corporation counsel. The nomination of Juan Figueroa, a former state representative and founding president of the Universal Health Care Foundation, to replace her as corporation counsel was also withdrawn, La Luz said.
Ilg said Monday that he plans to seek COO candidates nationally and locally. He said there's no deadline to have a new chief operating officer in place.
"We'll proceed as quickly as possible and do whatever has to be done to find excellent candidates so [Segarra] can make a selection," said Ilg, who was interim city manager for eight months beginning in 2002. He was appointed after the departure of Kee Borges, who at the time was city manager.
Kee Borges was appointed the city's first female city manager in 1993 under former Mayor Mike Peters. She served before that as deputy corporation counsel.
She left the city manager's post in 2002, not long after then-Mayor Eddie Perez took office and the city prepared to switch to a "strong mayor" form of government.
Kee Borges returned to city hall in 2010, when Segarra appointed her as corporation counsel. She became interim chief operating officer in September following the departure of David Panagore.
Wooden said Monday that he hopes a full search will turn up the right candidate.
"I would like to see a robust search. I think the mayor should cast a wide net and make sure he has a sufficient number of well-qualified candidates," he said. "There's been a lot of focus on how city government has been managed, and I think all options should be on the table. This is one of the most critical positions for the city."