Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Columbia City Council has offered Teresa Wilson the new City Manager position.
By a vote of 5-2, Columbia City Council moved to promote Assistant City Manager Teresa Wilson, to City Manager after Steve Gantt steps down.
Teresa Wilson is currently one of three assistant City Managers. News19 asked for the job description and qualifications from the City of Columbia. The position requires:
"A Bachelor's degree, Master's degree preferred, in public administration, business administration, or closely related field with a minimum of eight (8) years of work experience in a City or County leadership position, including but not limited to City Manager, Assistant City Manager, County Administrator, Deputy Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Administrative Services, etc."
However, some say Wilson's experience doesn't meet the City's requirements. News19 was emailed a copy of Wilson's resume.
It includes serving as Assistant City Manager of community programs, economic development, and government services in July of 2011.
She started working with the City in 2007 as Director of Government Affairs and Community Relations. Before coming to the City - she worked in the USC President's office in government and community relations.
Wilson also worked in Richland One and Two as a teacher from 2000 to 2005. City leaders say Wilson's time with the city - and her time spent working at USC as a liaison to state and federal government - qualified her.
After going into a brief executive session Thursday morning, City Council made their decision. "I move to extend a conditional offer of City Manager to Mrs. Teresa Wilson," said Councilman Sam Davis.
"I believe she is uniquely qualified. She understands not only the City but understands the vision of this council," said Mayor Steve Benjamin.
Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine agreed with the mayor's comments. "I have seen that leadership in Ms. Wilson in the past several years. She has managed staff and inspired the staff to do their very best."
But not everyone on council gave their full support. Councilwoman Leona Plaugh says that while Wilson is a 'bright, gifted, and talented candidate,' she is not the most qualified person the council interviewed.
"This is probably the most important hiring decision we as a council make during our terms in office," said Councilwoman Plaugh. "While I have an awful lot of faith in Ms. Wilson and her abilities, I also think right now she is inexperienced in many of the areas that we need leadership."
Moe Baddourah was the second Councilman to vote no against offering the job to Wilson.
Wilson points to her time overseeing the City's economic development, grants administrations, and governmental affairs as reasons the council chose her over other candidates.
"I do think that I have the confidence of council with my work ethic," said Wilson. "I'm excited, but I'm more excited about getting the offer in place and everything settled so I can get to work."
News19 also heard concerns from people saying Wilson's friendship with Mayor Steve Benjamin likely played a role in her getting the job. The mayor's office says Benjamin has known Wilson for nearly 20 years but says their friendship did not play a role in his vote or the other council members vote.
Mayor Spokesperson Michael Wukela said via email:
"Mayor Benjamin and Ms. Wilson have been friends for nearly two decades giving him a unique opportunity to witness her intelligence, talent and dedication first hand. That being said, their friendship played absolutely no role in his vote or that of the four other council members that supported her. Mayor Benjamin takes his responsibility to the people of Columbia very seriously and always places that responsibility far above any personal opinions positive or otherwise."
As for the questions around Wilson's experience, Wukela said that "if you read the full job description, it's based on a combination of experience and education." He added that "many unqualified candidates didn't make it past the human resource screening."
Wukela says that "Mayor Benjamin wants to make it clear that he implicitly trusts Ms. Wilson's ability and judgment."
Wilson says her perspective on the city's needs likely set her apart from the rest of the candidates. Wilson tells News19 her first duty will be to re-assess the city staff that is currently in place. Wilson will take over once current city manager, Steve Gantt, steps down in 2013.