By Ashley Rader
Kitchens has served as interim city manager since former city manager Fred Edens retired at the start of the new year. He was one of three finalists for the position, which included Steven Neilson, development coordinator for Johnson City Development Services Department, and Melissa Peagler, senior planner for the city of Morristown.
Kitchens received the first nomination for city manager by councilman Bill Carter. Bob Cable nominated Neilson and cast the only vote against Kitchens.
“I don’t count that as a vote against me,” Kitchens said. “I count that as a vote for Mr. Neilson. A lot of people have a high regard for Mr. Neilson. I appreciate council’s vote of confidence, and I hope to live up to their expectations.”
Kitchens said being the interim city manager did give him a slight advantage because city council was able to see what it would be like to work with him in the city’s top position.
“The advantage of being interim city manager is that city council knew exactly what they were getting, the raw edges and everything,” he said.
Kitchens said his first focus as city manager will be to balance the budget passed by city council. He said he would present council with a balanced budget that they could then review and make changes as they felt was necessary.