Can De'Carlon Seewood restore faith in Ferguson city management?

The St. Louis suburb's former assistant city manager has the local experience to 'hit the ground running' but the distance of having been out of state for eight years to 'bring a fresh perspective to the city,' according to Ferguson Mayor James Knowles.

Jeff Roberson/AP/File
Protesters march to mark the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown being shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, Aug. 9.

Ferguson, Mo., is turning to a familiar face to revamp city management.

The St. Louis suburb has been hard-pressed to appoint new leadership after weeks of violent clashes between civil-rights activists and police and a subsequent Justice Department (DOJ) investigation that found rampant violation of minority rights by the city's criminal justice system. 

The newly selected city manager, De'Carlon Seewood, served as the assistant city manager of Ferguson from 2001-2007. Mr. Seewood is currently serving as the village manager in Richton Park, Ill., and is expected to assume his new position in Ferguson on November 30.

"We're hoping he can hit the ground running here,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said Wednesday. Seewood is "someone with the knowledge of the area, but ... he's been gone for eight years and can bring a fresh perspective to the city."

As city manager, Seewood will be in charge of hiring, appointing, and firing city employees, overseeing the annual budget, and communicating with the city council on the city’s financial position, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The selection of Seewood as the Ferguson's new city manager comes eight months after the resignation of John Shaw, who had been implicated in the DOJ report as having "instructed city employees to violate constitutional rights,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time. 

Mr. Shaw denied these allegations. “I must state clearly that my office has never instructed the police department to target African-Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor,” he wrote in the statement.

Mayor Knowles said Shaw’s departure was a “mutually agreed upon separation.”

The report further found that Ferguson police and court officials sent racist emails and that the police department and court had discriminated against African-Americans “from the initial traffic stop to how they were treated in court.”

Both Shaw’s departure and the subsequent resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson were applauded by some, but others argue that mayor Knowles should also be replaced.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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