Bryan Chooses Watkins for City Manager

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Bryan has a choice for its city manager. All that's left is for him to say yes.

Thursday, the council selected David Watkins of Auburn, Alabama, as the lone finalist for their top staff spot. But a visit in 10 days could make or break the deal.

After less than half-an-hour in executive session and a month-and-a-half of talks, the Bryan city council returned Thursday night with the lone finalist.

City Secretary Mary Lynne Stratta is acting as the council's spokesperson.

"Mr. Watkins and his wife will be visiting Bryan on September 17 through the 19," Stratta said. "They're going to tour the community and meet with city staff. He'll make his decision after that visit."

With both Texas A&M and Blinn nearby, Watkins' past experience in college communities could pay dividends. For more than two years, he served as the city manager in Auburn, with a campus of 22,000 students, and a community of 50,000.

Before that, he served in a pair of Kansas communities. In the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, he served in the top spot for nearly two decades. And before that, he was city manager of nearby Ottawa, Kansas, home to a small college.

"The council is taking great care," Stratta said, "so I think it's good that their top candidate is taking great care and wants to make sure that Bryan is a good fit for him and his family."

If the Watkins deal were to fall through, there is also one less candidate to choose from. Garry Brumback, Clearwater, Florida's city manager, has removed his name from consideration.

"I don't know what the reason was that he has withdrawn, but he did notify the mayor that he was withdrawing," Stratta said.

As for Watkins, he was unavailable for comment Thursday evening. In an interview with News 3 back in August, he said he likes to give a good amount of control to department heads.

"Wherever I end up, I believe strongly in mentoring and also creating an environment where department heads feel comfortable in being creative and innovative and will take a risk to do something to make the town better," he said.

Watkins is also among the six finalists for the two assistant city manager spots in College Station. He was not among the first finalists in Bryan, but was added after Huntsville City Manager Kevin Evans dropped his name from consideration.

The other finalists are Joey Dunn, one of Bryan's deputy city manager, and Theo Vaults, a manufacturing manager in Tomball.

The position became vacant after the retirement of Mary Kaye Moore. Kean Register of BTU has been the acting city manager in the meantime, but has repeatedly said he does not want the position permanently.