Dothan went on a nationwide search to find the best assistant city manager to fill the new position and found the man for the job was already with the city limits.

Randy Morris, the former general services director who has 22 years overall experience with the local organization, was appointed to his new role at the City Commission meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner John Ferguson was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, but everyone present voted in favor of Morris’ contract with a $154,000 annual salary and $500 monthly car stipend.

The search to fill the position started in October 2019, around six months after City Manager Kevin Cowper took his role and assessed what the needs of the city were.

“It’s an important executive position,” Cowper said. “We wanted to take out time and methodically work through the process to hire someone.”

The position was advertised nationwide, and the city received an “almost overwhelming response” of qualified applicants. A panel identified around 12 top candidates, who filled out extensive questionnaires.

Five finalists were selected for an interview process with a panel of department heads, including financial services Director Lisa Reeder, Dothan Utilities Director Billy Mayes, and fire Chief Larry Williams. Cowper conducted a separate interview.

“The depth and breadth of his experience is exactly what I was looking for for this position,” Cowper said. “He’s got great background in operation, and just looking ahead at what we want to accomplish in Dothan, with the ‘Love Dothan’ program, it’s going to take someone with a deep understanding of city operations — somebody that can work with various departments for them to work together to accomplish specific goals.”

Morris will have many duties upon taking office, including helping Cowper manage about 1,200 employees and a $280 million budget. His first tasks will be to organize plans to support the “Love Your Neighborhood” initiative, including commercial corridor improvements that are part of the “Love Dothan” campaign.

Morris started with the city in the Engineering Division before moving on to the Public Works Department, then Dothan Utilities, and ultimately to the General Services Department.

“I’ve worked in multiple departments and have worked with all the city departments throughout my career here, so I’ve got a good knowledge of the good people and what everyone does and how it all works together,” he said.

“I’m excited about it,” he said of taking on the new role. “I think it’s an exciting time for the city of Dothan.”

Morris is an Ozark native. He served in the Navy before earning his engineering degree and worked as an engineering consultant.

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