City Council chooses Teresa Wilson to take over as new City Mana - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

City Council chooses Teresa Wilson to take over as new City Manager

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Steve Gantt (Source: City of Columbia) Steve Gantt (Source: City of Columbia)
Assistant City Manager Teresa Wilson Assistant City Manager Teresa Wilson
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Columbia could soon see a new face behind its manager position if a city council's offer to a Columbia native is accepted.

During a special called meeting Thursday, Assistant City Manager Teresa Wilson was approved by a 5-2 vote to become the city's new manager, replacing retiring City Manager Steve Gantt. Gantt announced in July he was retiring, but will spend his last six months training the new city manager. City council members Moe Baddourah and Leona Plaugh were not in favor of promoting Wilson.

Wilson's current job involves economic and community development and government affairs for the city. She started a career at the City of Columbia six years ago as a coordinator for government affairs and has been assistant city manager for about two years.

Mayor Steve Benjamin said Wilson's experience and education – a graduate of the University of South Carolina Honors College and USC's Law School – along with her knowledge of the city's goals make her qualified for the position.

"She is uniquely qualified and understands the city and vision of council," Benjamin said. "She has my full and unconditional support."

Twenty-seven applications were received for the city manager position, which was narrowed down to the top five individuals, including Wilson. Benjamin pointed out that Wilson has an "exceptional relationship with businesses" in the community and has also overseen $60 million in grants to the city.

Councilwoman Tameika Devine said Wilson is up to the challenge of take Columbia to the next level.

"The city is at a crossroads," Devine said, adding there is a "dynamic staff" in all city departments. "I am very comfortable and confident in (Wilson's) ability to work together with our staff to make sure we get to the next level."

Plaugh, who opposed Wilson's promotion, said city council was looking for a candidate that has strong leadership and manager skills at an executive level; the ability to evaluate and recruit employees; ability to advise council on water and sewer matters; and guide the city's 2,100 employees using policies set by city council.

"The candidate before us is indeed a bright, articulate and talented individual," Plaugh said, "but is inexperienced in many of those areas. Therefore, my concern is that she is not the most qualified candidate."

However, Wilson, who has not officially accepted the position, said that becoming a manager is something she has aspired to do and thinks her economic development goals are in line with the city.

"I do have the perspective of the city's needs and understanding of the vision to make the city of Columbia the most entrepreneurial city in the Southeast, if not the nation," Wilson said, adding the city wants to bring more businesses and high-paying jobs to the area.

If she accepts the city manager contract, Wilson said she would assess her team and find ways to "beef up" the city's efforts toward customer service by engaging the staff and create a more business-oriented group of employees.

Wilson should receive a proposed contract from city council within a few days.

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