The search for who will become Missouri City’s fourth full-time city manager in three years, and its third under the current mayor’s term, has narrowed to two candidates.

Angel Jones, the former city manager of Portsmouth, Virginia, and James Palenick, the former city manager of Middletown, Ohio, are the finalists for the city manager position that has been vacant since the Missouri City council in May opted to fire City Manager Charles “Tink” Jackson, according to Rachelle Dickerson, the communications manager for Missouri City.

Mayor Robin Elackatt did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the two finalists as of Monday afternoon.

He specifically did not respond to questions asking him if he’d considered waiting until after November to name a new city manager; why residents should have confidence the newest city manager would bring stability to the position; and a question seeking more information about how the council decided who would be the finalists.

The city manager spot has been something of a revolving door in Missouri City over the last few years.

The council in May opted to fire Jackson less than five months after his tenure began. The move came after an investigation into allegations about Jackson’s hiring and firing practices with the city.

A whistleblower alleged that Jackson fired city employees in order to install his preferred candidates in those positions, and provided interview questions ahead of time to people he wanted to hire, according to documents the Star received through a public information request.

Attorneys for the city sought to withhold a copy of that whistleblower complaint by filing an appeal with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, but state officials eventually sided with the Star and required the city to release the document to the public.

Before Jackson’s hiring, however, Missouri City also paid almost $1 million in severance payments to Jackson’s two predecessors, Anthony Snipes and Odis Jones, who were fired by the city council in February 2020 and May 2021, respectively.

Both Angel Jones and Palenick appear before Missouri City after recent controversy in their last cities.

Attorneys representing Angel Jones this week threatened to file a lawsuit against the city of Portsmouth, with Jones alleging she was wrongly fired and “major crimes involving public corruption” involving several city leaders, according to an article released Monday in the Virginian-Pilot.

Angel Jones was fired in May with a 4-3 vote from the Portsmouth city council, according to the story.

Palenick, meanwhile, left Middletown in March after he and the council agreed they had differing visions for the city, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer article.

Palenick had taken the Ohio job in July 2020, but has worked in city administration for eight cities, according to the article. Palenick was fired as city manager in three cities, including Bay City, Michigan in 2002; Rio Rancho, New Mexico in 2006; and Castonia, North Carolina in 2011, according to the article.

Sedrick Cole, Missouri City’s former IT manager, has been serving as interim city manager while the council has advanced through a search for a full-time replacement.

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