Streator City Manager Scot Wrighton will be leaving his position as the city's top administrator later this year to become Decatur's next city manager.
The details of the transition still are being worked out, but Wrighton said Wednesday during a press conference in Decatur the transition will likely take a couple of months.
Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford issued a press release to local media breaking the news Wednesday morning.
Lansford said in a phone interview Wednesday the Streator City Council will get to work right away on looking at a successor, perhaps beginning conversations during executive session of its Wednesday, Jan. 16, meeting.
"We'll talk about the qualifications we'll be looking for in a candidate and move forward ASAP," Lansford said. "I don't think there's any benefit to wait."
The mayor said Wrighton has offered to help with the transition if the council wishes. Wrighton's annual salary is $129,780, with a total compensation including benefits of $165,405.
"He's not going to leave us in a lurch," Lansford said. "This was an opportunity that came for him. They came looking for him, he wasn't looking to leave."
Decatur is a city with a population of 72,124 in Macon County, compared to Streator at 13,135. Wrighton replaces Tim Gleason, who is now city manager in Bloomington.
Wrighton said during the press conference in Decatur that he saw similarities in both towns, including their blue collar makeup, noting Decatur has a "larger canvas" to work on.
Wrighton, who served as Streator’s first city manager from July 1987 to March 1994, returned to Streator City Hall on Jan. 1, 2015. Between his two terms as Streator city manager, Wrighton served as the city manager of Kirksville, Mo., for nine years; on the faculty of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government for six years; and as the city manager of a private new urbanism development project in India for five years.
“The City Council is sad to see Scot leave Streator,” Lansford said in the press statement. "He has helped the governing body with many new projects, and he has been a catalyst for much of the change we have seen in Streator during the last four years. I know I speak for the entire City Council in thanking Scot for his tireless efforts to advance Streator, and I am thankful he has agreed to assist us in aiding and accelerating the process of finding a new city manager in the months ahead, so we can continue the positive momentum, and make the transition as smooth as possible.”
With that said, Lansford said he doesn't anticipate the city slowing down.
"Keep in mind, the direction he had was given to him by council members," the mayor said. "It will be the responsibility of his successor to achieve those objectives of the council. We've had plans we've made for several years, and I don't anticipate those changing."
A referendum was on the November ballot in Streator asking voters if they wanted to keep the city manager form of government. Voters responded with a tally of 2,216 to 1,076 in favor of the form of government.
“I told Scot I wanted him to stay in Streator,” Councilman Ed Brozak said in a press statement, “but I am happy for Scot and his family as he takes on another challenge in his career. He has helped point Streator in the right direction, and the city is better for his time here. I am pleased that Scot has consented to stay engaged with Streator through the upcoming city manager transition.”
According to a press release issued by Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe, Wrighton had met twice with the Decatur City Council in December. The city used a consulting firm GovHR to conduct its city manager search.
The Decatur City Council is meeting Monday, Jan. 14, to approve an employee agreement with Wrighton.
"Scot has not pursued the normal city manager career route," Wolfe said in a press statement, "but his rich diversity of professional experiences and his change-agent skills seemed like the exact leadership style the City Council was searching for in a new city manager for Decatur."