The Gainesville City Commission unanimously selected Kathy Viehe on Thursday to move up as interim general manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities.
Viehe, who was assistant general manager for customer support services of GRU, will take over when current general manager Robert Hunzinger officially leaves the post on Nov. 15.
Before the approval of the motion, a handful of the public voiced their opposition at the meeting to the narrow search to replace Hunzinger. Comments from the public include that hiring the manager from the inside will only perpetuate the cycle of bad management choices.
“The people who are assistant general managers from the standpoint of the public may be seen as tainted by the leadership that you’ve had before,” one resident said. “I think that you need to look at that and decide whether or not you need to bring someone in from the outside.”
Other candidates, according to the Gainesville Sun, were David Beaulieu, the assistant general manager for energy delivery, David Richardson, assistant general manager for water and wastewater systems. Richardson withdrew from consideration on Wednesday. Thor Wishart, utility field services manager, told WUFT News he was also a candidate.
Before the vote, City Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls explained while Viehe wasn’t her first choice, she will support her as the new interim general manager.
“I do need to support her in this because I did say to her, and I’ll say it again, I’d love to see a woman running GRU,” Commissioner Hinson-Rawls said.
Mayor Ed Braddy called the vote and then congratulated Viehe.
Viehe started in 1996 as the communications director, and in 2000, her title was changed to marketing and communications director for GRU.
In 2006, she was the interim assistant general manager and in 2007 became the assistant general manager for customer support services.
Viehe was unavailable for comment Friday morning.
Clarification appended: Thor Wishart, utility field services manager, said he was also a candidate.