Half of the Houston City Council last week voted to hire the town’s former economic development head to lead city government.

The council interviewed two candidates earlier in the month. At its July 18 meeting, three members of the board — Angie Gettys, Don Romines and Kevin Stilley — voted to hire Rob Harrington who left here in May 2021 for a similar post in Fort Scott, Kan. His wife is the mayor there. The couple still owns a house in Houston.

Voting no were Sam Kelley, Michael Weakly and Sheila Walker, who said she wanted to do an interview before approving Harrington. With a tie vote, Mayor Willy Walker opted not to hire Harrington.

Earlier in the meeting, the mayor appointed one of the other administrator applicants. That was turned down on a 4-2 vote (Kelley and Weakly yes)

In the hiring of someone to lead city government, Mayor Walker has the upper hand, according to city ordinance. Walker appoints the city administrator with the approval of the council. “A qualified person shall be appointed city administrator by the mayor and such appointment shall be approved by a majority of the board of aldermen,” reads the ordinance.

Harrington worked in Houston beginning in October 2018. He came here from Grain Valley where he served as Grain Valley Economic Development Corp. executive director.


Also at the closed session, the council voted to respond to a request from the attorney of ousted City Administrator Scott Avery, who is seeking a hearing on his dismissal. (Kevin Stilley and Sheila Walker voted not to respond).

The board unanimously agreed to hire a public grounds department employee whose duties would include recycling.

It also will advertise its city administrator post again. (Kelley and Weakly no)

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