(SAVANNAH) – Stephanie Cutter, City Manager for Savannah, announced at council Thursday that she will be stepping down but will stay on while city leaders search for her replacement.
Cutter’s resignation comes just two days after a new mayor and three new alderman took office. On the day he was sworn in, Mayor Eddie Deloach reportedly told several council members he had enough votes to remove Cutter.
Alderman John Hall, a Cutter supporter said it was a difficult day. “”It was a long, arduous decision that she had to come to and that four of us had to accept.” (Four use there in terms of the votes that would have supported Cutter had it come to an issue of the council trying to oust Cutter. Word was that one council member had agreed to side with the four newest members which would have made any vote five to four.)
Still, Mayor Deloach told reporters that Cutter had not been threatened or asked to resign, but that it was ultimately her choice. ” It is just one of those things where there’s a different group of people, a different feeling and a different approach and sometimes there are casualties,” said Deloach
Deloach publicly thanked Cutter for her service as did the three new alderman, Brian Foster, Bill Durrence and Julian Miller.
But Cutter’s decision produced sadness on the part of Alderman Van Johnson. “I’m sorry you decided to come to this, it breaks my heart,” Johnson told Cutter. “On the other hand, there are political realities that cannot be ignored.”
And Alderman Tony Thomas put it this way. “The winds of change blew into Savannah in the last election. And the first order of business we took today was to discuss the future of the city manager. And she made her decision, Stephanie Cutter made it on her terms,” he said.
“I think it was a decision that whether you think it’s right or not – was an issue that had to come forward and move forward. And our city is moving forward and sometimes things changes when things move forward,” said Mayor Deloach.
Cutter will stay on while a nationwide search for her replacement is conducted. After that, she will be paid by the city for another year to serve as a consultant to the new city manager.
Cutter was appointed City Manager in April 2013. She had previously served as Acting City Manager since October 2012, Assistant City Manager of Administrative and Community Services since December 2011, and as Acting Assistant City Manager since May 2010.
Below is the full statement City Manager Stephanie Cutter made to Savannah’s City Council:
“Earlier today I notified you of my plans to retire, and have agreed to remain as City Manager as you conduct a nationwide search for a new City Manager. I will remain in the Office of City Manager until the new Manager’s term begins.
“I have also agreed to remain as an adviser to the new City Manager for one year. I trust that you will remain diligent in your commitment to provide me your full support in my role as City Manager pursuant to the City Charter, and make the same commitment to the new City Manager.
“It is love for the people of Savannah and love for this great City that should motivate us to work cooperatively together to preserve the quality of life for ALL citizens of Savannah.
“I will be submitting an official letter to the Mayor and Aldermen of my intentions as stated.”