Cincinnati Parks Department Director Willie Carden, Mayor John Cranley’s choice for city manager, withdrew from consideration, the mayor’s office announced on Dec. 6.
Acting City Manager Scott Stiles will continue in his current role while the city launches a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.
Carden said in a statement that he decided to remain as head of the Cincinnati Parks Department after consulting with his family.
Carden’s nomination initially drew wide praise from City Council, but it was snared in controversy after Carden said he will continue to live outside Cincinnati — a violation of the city charter.
The Cincinnati Enquirer also uncovered an ethics probe that found Carden wrongfully took pay from both the city and the private Parks Foundation.
Councilman Chris Seelbach responded ambivalently to the news, praising both Carden and the decision to conduct a national search.
“Although I would have supported Willie Carden as the permanent city manager, I’m glad to see we are now going to undertake the process we should have taken all along,” Seelbach posted on Facebook.
When Cranley announced the nomination on Nov. 27, the Charter Committee, Cincinnati’s unofficial third political party, criticized the mayor for not undertaking a transparent national search prior to his decision.
City Council’s Rules and Audit Committee almost considered Carden’s nomination on Dec. 3, but the decision was delayed for a week to give council members time to interview Carden one-on-one and evaluate ordinances for the nomination.