City council selects Keith Wright as city manager in close vote

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Lufkin City Council has promoted its deputy city manager to city manager in a 4-3 vote Tuesday night.

Following an executive session, Mayor Bob Brown entertained a motion to select Keith Wright as the city manager, which was seconded.

The council members who voted against Wright told KTRE they were doing so specifically because they don't believe the selection process was done right.

In a roll call voice vote during the meeting, council members Victor Travis, Robert Shankle and Sarah Murray voted against Wright and they say it's because the appointment process wasn't done correctly.

"I didn't feel that this was done correctly. I felt that this is something that has been in planning for years but there's nothing we can do about it because we don't have the votes," said councilman Victor Travis.
"I don't have anything wrong with Keith Wright. I have a problem with the process, the way things were done, the misleading of our leadership on council," said councilman Robert Shankle.

Shankle said he has a voicemail from Mayor Bob Brown which he believes proves that the decision to hire Wright as city manager had already been made before Tuesday's meeting.

Mayor Brown told KTRE Tuesday night that two weeks ago in executive session, council members narrowed their selection for city manager from two candidates to one, Keith Wright. Brown says in that session, the group held an informal poll, which supported Wright's hiring 4-to-3. But Wright was not offered the job based on that poll. Brown says that poll was used to begin building the parameters of Wright's offer.

Shankle says nothing was supposed to be decided before Tuesday's meeting.

"I cannot take the oath and sit in front of these citizens in the City of Lufkin and go along with thinks like that even if I'm the only one that's going to stand up and I wasn't the only one," Shankle said.

But Wright says he has always believed the position was open and someone else could be selected.

"To me it was always up in the air, never thought that it was just me, always thought it was an open process and that other people might get chosen and I was prepared for that if that's what happened," said Keith Wright who was appointed Lufkin City Manager.

Wright says he has been in the city for 20 years, considers the appointment an honor and is ready to take on the challenge.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think it's an honor and privilege and I want to do the best job I can," Wright said. "I'm going to work with all the council and all the citizens. I know that everything won't be perfect but we're going to do the best job we can to move the city forward and see the city continue to grow."

Travis said that although he has questions about the hiring process he supports Wright as city manager.

"I will support him because that's what we do," Travis said. "That's for Lufkin. Lufkin is my city and I'm going to support Lufkin because I'm going to live here all my life."

Shankle said he is not going to let the issue go. He says Tuesday's decision is just the beginning and he plans to bring any alleged violations to the district attorney.

Mayor Brown also told KTRE  Tuesday that Shankle brought up the voicemail during Tuesday's executive session in the presence of the city attorney, and that the attorney did not bring up any concerns with it.

Wright tells us he will officially begin his duties as city manager tomorrow.

Wright replaces Paul Parker, who has retired as city manager.

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