Gary O’Connell: Person of the Year

The Hook has decided to start naming a “Person of the Year” annually, and for this first year, they’ve named City Manager Gary O’Connell. Lindsay Barnes writes:

He’s the CEO of one of Central Virginia’s biggest companies, administering a $162 million annual budget and supervising over 900 employees. Like any CEO, he has a board that stakes out policy positions, but he’s the one who makes things happen. Those facts in and of themselves are enough to make Gary O’Connell a contender for “Person of the Year” any year.

However, this year, perhaps more than any other in his 14-year tenure as Charlottesville City Manager, has found O’Connell at the center of several larger-than-usual controversies.

Much of the piece is turned over to O’Connell “to let him talk about issues, respond to critics, and make the case that he’s consistently given City Council the best possible advice.” The runners-up, incidentally, were Congressman-elect Tom Perriello, Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford, businessman James Murray, Bill Crutchfield, and Olympian Lindsay Shoop.

10 thoughts on “Gary O’Connell: Person of the Year”

  1. Denise Lunsford and Tom Perriello would have been far more worty first persons of the year. They actually showed courage, fought hard battles to win office over long term incumbents, etc. Gary O’Connell has been doing the same job for years now. Boring.

  2. A pretty lazy, lame choice when you have Tom Periello taking down Virgil Goode in the same year.

  3. How could it not have been Periello, given his truly historic victory in the 5th district.

    The piece really seemed like an excuse just to criticize Mr. O’Connell than anything.

  4. You had to look at their criteria: “the Hook editorial staff singles out the man or woman who most influenced the big news stories in Charlottesville for the year.”

    From rebricking the Mall to the water plan, who influenced more big news stories than O’Connell? The runners-up were more of the feel-good variety of people who are “worthy” if this were an honor.

  5. Lindsay Barnes writes:
    “He’s the CEO of one of Central Virginia’s biggest companies, administering a $162 million annual budget and supervising over supervising over 900 employees………………..”

    Should read “NON-Profit, Taxpayer funded, politically powered”—–Large difference from CEO of a genuine business company. The 162 million is not that big a deal.

    “Supervising 900 employees”

    I don`t think so. If he does that`s the poorest management model in existence. If it`s true, which I doubt, what do his line supervisors do? Fire all the Chiefs as they are not supervising if O`Connell does it all.

    Credit. Fine, but let`s not “hyperbole ourselves” out from reality.

  6. I havent read the article, but I thought the whole cover was supposed to be ironic given the Hook’s furious coverage of O’Connell’s role in RWSA and this is the first time the Hook has done this sort of thing.

  7. A significant reason that publications name an X of the Year is that people become animated, send in letters, tell friends, etc., whether they agree or disagree with the selection. Ditto for Top X Ys lists.

  8. I think Mr.Barnes has written a fair and balanced article. It was refreshing to read that Mr. O’Connell has admitted that he made a mistake as an RWSA board member
    Mr.Barnes writes:

    O’Connell does say there’s one thing he’d do differently: he’d get a second opinion from a firm other than Gannett Fleming.

    “Sitting here today,” says O’Connell, “looking back, clearly their cost estimates were way off.”

    Let’s hope he corrects this mistake in 2009 and gets a second opinion from a firm experienced in dredging operations, and I would also recommend getting a second opinion of all Gannett Flemings’s assumptions.
    Isn’t that what businesses do when they’re looking at spending hundreds of millions of dollars ?

  9. I can name at least 20 more people in this city that do more good, and have just as much impact. That is too funny.

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