Finnell resigned after an arrest record and charges, including fraud, came to light on the website www.mugshots.com which, he said in a statement, caused “irreparable harm and damage” to his personal and professional reputation.
Although Finnell said he is working on having a misdemeanor fraud charge expunged from his record, Thompson said the real issue involved Finnell not disclosing the information before accepting the city manager position.
“I’ve known [Finnell] for several years and as far as I know, he is a man of character, but he didn’t let me know about his past and what happened, so in the end my hands were tied,” Thompson said.
Now, the city will go through the process of selecting a new city manager, which, Thompson said, could take several weeks.
“I’m currently interviewing candidates and several interviews are being conducted every day,” he said.
After several candidates are chosen, the city council will narrow down the list.
Thompson said that despite negative news coverage of the incident, one positive factor emerged. Because of the publicity, he said, the city has received an “outpouring” of people interested in the position.
“I’ve had candidates as far as Iowa contacting me who would like to apply, but we’re trying not to rush our decisions because there is a process we must follow,” Thompson said.
And, although he said he considers Finnell a friend, Thompson also said he would not extend special privileges to anyone.
“I was elected to be responsible and accountable. I draw a line with certain things, like my basic standards, so whether a person is the city manager or a street sweeper, I’m not going to treat anyone differently,” he said.