Savannah city manager listed as finalist for job in Texas

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The city of Brownsville, Texas, listed Savannah City Manager Rob Hernandez as a finalist for its open city manager position.

According to an article posted one month ago by the Brownsville Herald, Hernandez is one of 30 applicants. Sources confirm he is a finalist for the position.

District 4 Alderman Julian Miller said this is concerning to him, but not surprising after witnessing the treatment of Hernandez by both community members and fellow elected officials. However, he said Hernandez was hand-picked when the City of Savannah needed direction most.

"The truth of the matter is, we desperately need Rob Hernandez," Miller said. "We needed to get this city off top-dead-center. It had stalled and wasn't doing the things it needed to do. We needed to bring somebody in to help us become the type of city we needed to be."

He said for the first time in decades, the city has a strategic plan and there is a better work ethic and attitude among staff members. He also said crime numbers have dropped drastically.

"Keep in mind, all this crime went down after Rob got here, and in the middle of it when we lost a police chief, we never missed a step because he reached out and got someone to take his place in an interim position without batting an eyelash," he said.

In an interview with WTOC when Hernandez was hired in November of 2016, he said he was here for the long haul.

"I was sincere when I said when I came to the city of Savannah I was coming for the long term. That's why when I came here I immediately purchased a home in the city of Savannah because I want to send a message to the community that I'm not here - I don't intend to be a flash in the pan and build my resume and move on to somewhere else."

However, Hernandez released this official statement Thursday afternoon:

The past 20 months have been some of the most rewarding and challenging of my career. During this time I have developed a deep appreciation for Savannah, one of America's great cities. I have also come to realize how much the citizens care about their community, and how passionate they are concerning its future.

The city could not say if Hernandez withdrew his application from consideration. However, Alderman Miller said they did a nation-wide search once, and would not have the same results this time around.

"If he does leave, we'll have to start that all over again and the best we'll be able to do is come up with number two. We've already got the number one," Miller said.

The city hired Hernandez in October 2016. He previously served as the deputy county administrator in Broward County, FL.

Recently, Hernandez played an integral part in fine-tuning an upcoming fire fee in Savannah, which has sparked controversy. Earlier this month, Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach announced he would propose to the council that the fee be cut in half in response to public outrage.

That proposal would come with significant cuts to all city services except public safety.

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