Iman picks his ex-assistant for post
Posted: February 5, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — A man with a prestigious professional award on his resume and a conspicuous mark on his driving record has been hired as Winchester’s new assistant city manager.
Douglas Hewett, 42, was selected by City Manager Dale Iman on Monday to fill the newly reinstated post. He previously worked for Iman for 51⁄2 years in Fayetteville, N.C., where he rose to the level of assistant city manager.
Hewett was selected from a field of 200 applicants and will be paid an annual salary of $100,000, Iman said.
“I know he can handle anything we can throw at him,” Iman said, “and come back with good, sound, fair solutions to problems. I think his personality is one that people migrate toward, and I think he will be a breath of fresh air for this organization.”
Hewett said he’s excited to be joining the city’s government.
“It seemed to me that Winchester had all the things I was looking for — great entertainment, a great sense of who they are, great educational opportunities,” he said. “I’m looking forward to coming in and getting started to help make things even better.”
In February 2012, after working in Fayetteville for nearly eight years, Hewett accepted a position as the manager of Hollywood, Fla., a city with a population of 140,000.
But he resigned from that position after just 14 weeks in the wake of his arrest on multiple charges, including driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), following a traffic stop as he left a North Miami Beach gay strip club. According to miamiherald.com, breath samples showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.145 and 0.139, significantly higher than the 0.08 legal limit.
The charge has been reduced to reckless driving, Hewett indicated.
The Miami Herald website reported that Hewett left the position with a severence package including a $66,000 payout, 12 months of health insurance and a promise by the city to not say anything bad about him. In exchange, Hewett promised he wouldn’t sue the city, the Herald reported.
“I worked for 16 years, ever since graduate school, to build a reputation as a person who was reliable, trustworthy, bright and able to help move communities forward,” he said. “The decision I made last year to try to drive home after being out with friends called all that into question. It’s the biggest regret I have in life, that I tried to drive home that night.
“I’m capable of really great things, but I’m also human. On that night I fell short of my personal standard, and that will be a lifelong regret. I’m glad to have a second chance and to come to Winchester to do it.”
Iman said he spoke with Hewett about the arrest and is “willing to put my reputation on it” that it won’t be repeated.
“It’s something that I know he regrets,” said Iman. “He’s promised himself and me that it will never happen again.
“The question is judgment: Do I believe this is a rare occurrence or a commonplace occurrence. ... I know his skills and talents, and I’m willing to take the risk that this will not be something that repeats itself and that he’s going to be able to do really good things for this organization.”
If a city department head were arrested on similar charges, Iman said multiple factors would determine what action he would take. When his employees have been arrested in other cities, he said he’s done everything from working with the person to termination depending on the circumstances.
“A lot has to do with how they handle things after the incident — are they truthful and honest, and do they sincerely pledge to not repeat it?” he said. “Most of us at some point in our lives do something we’re not too proud of, and I don’t think any of us want to be judged by our worst transgressions.”
The assistant city manager’s selection is made by the city manager.
Iman narrowed the field to three candidates and used an interview panel comprised of Jeffrey Buettner, then the president of City Council; Donna Eagle, director of personnel for Winchester Public Schools; Mitch Moore, Shenandoah University’s vice president for advancement; Lauri Bridgeforth, chairwoman of the Old Town Development Board; and Judy Sarber, the city’s payroll and benefits manager. The panelists were aware of Hewett’s legal troubles.
Each candidate had to do a simulated press conference relating to a scenario developed for the interview, complete a written response exercise and be interviewed by Iman one-on-one.
City Council President John Willingham said he supports Iman’s decision to hire Hewett.
“I have confidence that Dale went through the process of vetting the candidates, looking at the pros and cons,” Willingham said, “and I’m sure he took that into consideration.
“We all make mistakes. We’re all human. All these things were reviewed and taken into consideration when Dale made his choice. He decided this was best for the city, and I support his decision.”
In 2010, Hewett received an international award for his work in Fayetteville. The International City/County Management Association honored him with its Assistant Excellence in Leadership Award.
In his letter nominating Hewett, Iman — who was the city manager — cited him for helping consolidate four city departments to make them more efficient and user-friendly, playing a key role in the implementation of a curbside recycling program, and working to revamp Fayetteville’s public bus service to improve operations and increase ridership.
“I find Doug to be a vitally important member of my management team and a true leader,” Iman wrote, adding that Hewett “has a way of keeping me grounded and focused on the big picture.”
Hewett said he also is proud of work he did in Fayetteville to start a program to deal with problem rental housing.
He also received a highly competitive fellowship in 2011, spending a month in the Senior Executive Institute for State and Local Government at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Iman said Hewett was his “go-to person” on strategic plan implementation in Fayetteville, and he’ll play a crucial role in Winchester’s implementation of its recently developed plan. He also has excellent communication skills, Iman said.
“He’s got a lot of really good, relevant experience and is going to make an impact immediately,” Iman said. “He’s already talked to me about things he can take off my plate that will free up my time to focus on big-picture items.”
— Contact Vic Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org