The Sandusky City commission struggled in 2013 debating whether Nicole Ard was up to the challenges of being city manager, before finally coming to a "consensus" without an agreement, or a vote.
The views of Commissioner Wes Poole and former Commissioner Diedre Cole were ignored by the majority coalition on commission, which provided Ard with a positive performance review that was short on substance and didn't address the concerns raised by Poole and Cole.
The election in November brought back two people with previous experience on commission and one new face, however, all of whom were determined to re-examine Ard's performance.
They provided Ard a performance improvement plan as the new commission reviewed the city's annual budget and forecast before making difficult decisions to cut some services and staff. Commission voted unanimously for that budget. But they were unable to come to a unanimous decision on whether Ard was the person who should lead the city. In a 4-3 vote on March 28, commission terminated Ard's employment.
Personnel decisions are rarely easy. Anyone who has followed city government knows that, with the departures and terminations of past city managers and the difficulties of those past decisions.
This time, however, it appears the majority coalition that voted to fire Ard did their due diligence and carefully reviewed the concerns they had with her performance.
Commission met in executive session numerous times and reviewed the issues before providing Ard what appears to us to be a detailed performance improvement plan that gave her the opportunity to address those concerns directly.
In the end, however, the majority on commission determined Ard didn't or couldn't meet the expectations they had for the city manager, and she was not the person they believed could lead the city. Terminating anyone's employment in any circumstance is never easy.
In this instance, the majority appears to have accomplished by way of a vote -- without ignoring the dissension on commission -- what it felt was necessary, and they did it in a professional and thorough way.