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Aberdeen city manager takes job in Delaware; city to look for new top official

Aberdeen will be in the market for a new city manager as its top official announced at a Monday meeting of the city council that he would be leaving the job in Delaware’s capital in February.

Randy Robertson, who has been Aberdeen’s city manager since 2016, will depart in February for Dover, Delaware, where he has been hired as the city’s manager. Roberston will leave a few months before his contract with Aberdeen is set to expire.

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Robertson said he wanted to leave the city better than he found it, and attributed the successes of his tenure to the city’s employees.

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“I just was blessed to be the captain of the team, but it’s the team,” he said. “I have led people since I was 21 years old, a second lieutenant. I have led people in life-threatening situation; I have led them when times are good or times are bad, but I would match this group against any I have had the opportunity or privilege of leading.”

Mayor Patrick McGrady said that Robertson has been a steady hand guiding the city for the past four years. He did not know that Robertson was planning to announce his resignation at Monday’s meeting, but wished him the best in Dover.

“I have got nothing but positive things to say about Randy Robertson,” McGrady said. “We are leaving on good terms; I am happy, he is happy.”

Many of the city’s departments can operate semi-autonomously, McGrady said, and a city manager candidate should be the glue that holds them together. That candidate, he said, can be someone with experience managing municipal governments or someone from the private sector who thinks they are up to the task.

“I am looking to have a wide scope of people so we can compare,” he said.

Though the process for finding a new city manager is under way, in an October work session of the council, the council discussed charter amendments that would change the structure of municipal government, including the authorities of the city manager, the city council and the mayor.

The council has not yet decided who would fill Robertson’s position in the interim, but they are well-positioned to do so, McGrady said. Councilman Jason Kolligs sat on the last search committee for a city manager, and several of the council members have experience with the process.

Kolligs said the council is looking for a strong communicator and manager to keep the city’s momentum in more of a managerial role. He said Robertson was effective in setting goals and evaluating the city staff’s performance to keep it moving in a positive direction.

“Going forward, we are probably looking for someone, more so, to keep it moving,” he said. “We have a lot of good things set up as a result of Randy.”

Councilman Adam Hiob also did not know Robertson’s plan to depart the city but knew he had been interviewing with other cities for the past few months.

Robertson said the largest challenge facing the next city manager will be COVID-19 recovery, as it will be in many other cities, and managing growth. He pointed to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake’s Aberdeen location and the prospective vascular care center at the former high school as signs of welcome growth and an inviting environment for residents and businesses.

Those who are interested in the position can visit the city’s website.

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