It makes sense for Ocean City to promote from within for its next city manager.
Barring any major curve balls, 31-year City Engineer Terry McGean will be officially announced as Ocean City’s sixth city manager next week. McGean is a sound pick. We figured the job would be offered to McGean and/or Public Works Director Hal Adkins. Both men are experienced and know the city well. It’s a solid situation for Ocean City because both McGean and Adkins – who is nearing retirement — could do the job well with a seamless transition.
With McGean, Ocean City can essentially move forward and skip a lengthy and expensive national search process. Ocean City Mayor and Council members are comfortable with the long-time department head. City staff and leaders know and respect McGean already. Unlike a new person, introductions will not be needed, and McGean should be able to transition well into the new position.
The time seemed right for Ocean City to look within to fill the city manager’s post. Though we think the city did well with its selection of Doug Miller in 2016, national search processes are not always successful. There are many talented chief executives in the marketplace, but the fit must be right. In many cases, time is the only way to determine if the right person has been hired. Decisions on personnel often end up being educated leaps of faith. What’s on paper and presented in limited interviews is not always the reality. Ocean City knows this from previous experiences.
McGean is the right man for the job at the right time. Considering his tenure already with the city, we would suspect this is a short-term gig for McGean, perhaps in the three- to five-year range. Steady leadership from a known, proven and familiar leader is just what Ocean City needs to continuing moving it forward through an interesting transition.
Many at City Hall maintain current Mayor and Council members are heavily involved in daily operations. The term “micromanaging” has been used to describe the elected officials’ handling of the city manager’s office. McGean is already familiar with operations and the personalities at play. A new person with a different background could find the dynamics unsettling and his or her past experiences could cause discord.
Another reason supporting the internal promotion is Ocean City’s government is swelling, expanding further into the tourism sales industry. The new Tourism and Business Development Department is an expensive new operation, one that will need time to grow. Patience will be needed.
McGean’s familiarity with all these current events coupled with his three decades of experience at City Hall make him a wise choice to lead the resort moving forward.