The Fairmont City Council went through an awkward process this week in naming Mike Humpal its new city administrator. In the end, we think they got the right man for the job, but the way they went about it was not a shining moment for City Hall.
Several weeks ago, the council discussed whether to open up the hiring to applicants or to simply promote Humpal, who has been a valuable long-time employee, groomed for the position over the past few years. The group agreed to have Humpal come before them for an interview. That took place Monday.
And that's where things really broke down. The debate about whether to open up the process began all over again. Council members started talking about whether an internal promotion was "fair." At least one councilman didn't like the interview being in front of the public, despite the open meeting law.
To his credit, Humpal handled the trial by fire well. Fairly or unfairly, he has been a lightning rod for the city's economic wins and losses. As economic development director, he helps facilitate business startups and expansions, but he cannot control individual company decisions to lay off workers or leave town. We do believe Humpal has been willing to discuss these wins and losses in an open way. We also think he is quite knowledgeable and easily competent enough to be city administrator.
We wish Humpal the very best as he prepares to take over the reins in May. He has proven his commitment to Fairmont over the years, and now it's time for citizens to welcome his leadership.