Claremore Daily Progress

November 18, 2012

New City Manager no stranger to tough decisions or conflict

Salesha Wilken
Staff Writer

CLAREMORE — Jim Thomas is very familiar with tough situations, difficult politics and union conflicts.

In the cities Thomas has worked he has faced a number of issues involving his tough policies and no nonsense approach.

Thomas comes to Claremore with a new vision for the town and a stack of glowing references.

The city council has giving overwhelming support for Thomas as well as city staff.

There is clearly an excitement surrounding the new manager.

A number of different newspapers throughout the country have put Thomas under fire in the past, because of his cost cutting decisions and tough management.

Thomas worked in Kingston, Mass.; West Warwick, RI; Old Orchard Beach, Maine; Sterling, Colo.; Whitefish Bay, Wisc. and Forest Park, Ill.

Throughout his career, Thomas has been tough and consistent with his actions.

Thomas is known for his union negotiation skills, government reorganization and consolidation of departments.

These are some areas that he has come under fire by local media and even employees that worked with Thomas.

Two separate employees filed lawsuits against the cities Thomas represented as the city manager. Pamela R. Gumina, of Sterling and Sgt. Susan Mumford, of Kingston both filed legal action against the manager for issues ranging from harassment to retaliation.

Mumford was a city employee that served as the union contract negotiations as well as a “selectmen” otherwise known as a city council member.

Thomas explains that the issue with Mumford was a simple conflict of interest and that the issue was resolved.

Critics of Thomas are quick to give another view of the issues and the Claremore Progress has been contacted by anonymous sources that have shared a different view of the story in Kingston.

Gumina, the former assistant city manager for Sterling, was terminated by Thomas bringing forth the issue.

Thomas was quoted by the “Hawk Eye” a Burlington, Iowa newspaper regarding the issue.

“It’s a rough community (Sterling),” Thomas said. “When you eliminate 11 positions, it does not make you the most popular person in the world.”

Despite the numerous news stories or anonymous phone calls both issues have been resolved in Thomas’s favor, according to court records.

Additionally, Gumina was ordered to pay the legal fees for the city of Sterling as a result of the case.

Thomas explained that due to the nature of the issues he would not even respond to the media accusations.

“I am a professional manager,” Thomas said. “I hold myself at a higher standard.”

Thomas provided full disclosure to the council regarding the past issues or battles depending on the point of view.

“My word is my bond,” Thomas said.

It is clear that Thomas has plans to bring his tough but solid leadership style to Claremore.

“Any city manager that has been in the business for as long as he has and especially the past several years has had to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions and ruffle some feathers..We looked at his accomplishments, experience,vision for Claremore,management style opinion on economic development and planning. I  truly believe that his fresh set of eyes and management style is what Claremore needs at this time.I hope for Claremores sake that he is given a fair chance and support. I know he has the support of the council and there is always two sides to the story,”said Mayor Mickey Perry.