Miller to Lead City
Wednesday January 20, 2021
by Craig Richards
PETERSBURG - While both Deputy City Manager Darnetta Tyus and Deputy City Manager Lionel Lyons were under consideration for the Interim City Manager positions it was a familiar face that got the nod. Former Deputy City Manager of Public Safety Kenneth Miller received unanimous support to lead the city by the city council at the January 5th meeting.
Miller sees his role very clearly. "Most importantly its preparing the way for the next city manger.to come in and do some fantastic things for our city."
A discussion was conducted in closed session followed by a vote in the regular session of council on that date. Councilor John Hart Sr. was unable to be reached by presstime and Councilors Annette Smith-Lee and Councilor Charles Cuthbert declined to comment. But the remaining four councilors expressed their reasoning and confidence in Miller to lead Petersburg in the transition.
The decision of the four councilors centered around Miller's previous performance as Deputy City Manager of Public Safety for the City of Petersburg. Mayor Samuel Parham was impressed with Miller's ability to keep two difficult city budgets in line. "The decision was made to bring back Kenneth Miller because of all the great things he did with fire and police. And they are two of the most challenging departments we hav ein the city especially budget wise. Keeping those two budgets in line are arguably the two hardest budgets we have.," Parham said. .But his decision was also based on specific experience to the city and with the staff. "We didn't want to bring in someone new that doesn't know the city. We are just trying to create that cenergy of what we had when Miller was here working with those two," Parham added.
For Councilor Darrin Hill the reasoning was similar. "He served as a Deputy City Manager and I really took in account his community involvement. His ability to manage the police and fire departments was a deciding factor as well," Hill said.
Councilor Howard Myers echoed his fellow councilors opinions. "I found Chief Miller to be charismatic. The public seems to love their interactions with him. I believe just watching him work, how he focused on necessary changes needed in the police department, and even having it certified after a 130 years sets a precedence for someone who has that leadership and management skills to get things done and move things forward," Myers said.
Councilor Treska Wilson-Smith considered Miller as a solid choice because he knew the city but would be coming back with an outside fresh perspective. Wilson-Smith considered that a crucial advantage to the city.
"Somethings you need to break things up. YOu need to have someone with a different eye look at things. So the possibility of Mr. Kenneth Miller coming gave us that opportunity," said Wilson-Smith. "The people liked Kenneth Miller. He came in with the old fashion idea of getting to know the people. He attended board meetings and events throughout the city. He's made himself accessible.to the public," she added.
Miller has not served as a city manager prior to this interim position. He feels that his background will provide the necessary experience needed to serve in the role. "I was a Deputy City Manager. The budgets I handled were pretty much the larger budgets in the city. I'm very good with people and my leadership is transformational. and situational. Mrs. Ferrell-Benavides groomed me as well as Mr. Lyons and Ms. Tyus. She groomed us to be in that chair. It's not a strange chair to me. I come in knowing a lot about the city. I've already been in talks with other people with respect to things we can do together," Miller said.
"I'm very fortunate. I learned under Mrs. Ferrell-Benavides who taught me alot. I'm thankful she took time with me.She has set the table for the next city manager to do some great things," Miller added.
Miller says he has no interest in the position in the long term. "I'm hoping we can find that next bringt young lady or bright young man who has a passion and love, like I do, for public service who wants to take Petersburg to the next level. One of the biggest things we want to do is make sure we get the right person who has a passion for the city like all of us do," he said.
Miller believes that the city has yet to fully harvest local talent and the key to success in public buy-in. "We have to get everybody involved; people in the city who have so much value to the city who maybe haven't had the chance to say what ideas or concepts or passions they have to take the city to the next level. I devoted to work with people. That's extremely important," Miller said.
He expressed high praise for both Deputy City Managers when questioned about his thoughts of the dynamics of the trio working together again. "Wow. I'm working with two superstars.; people who understand their roles (and the city)." he said. He feels that both could be contenders for the top spot. "I hope both of them apply and compete for the job," Miller added.
Craig RIchards is the CEO of LNN USA and can be reached at