- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder says D.C. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb would be a good successor to him.

And Mr. Bobb, who served as city manager there from 1986 to 1997, says he would love to settle down in Richmond.

“I would definitely consider returning there” he said yesterday. “I always missed Richmond from the day I left. It’s really a jewel, truly a jewel of a city.”

Mr. Bobb was rumored to be considered for the city administrative officer position in Richmond. However, Mr. Wilder hired acting Chief Administrative Officer William Harrell in March for the position, and is pleased with his performance.

Mr. Harrell, who earned $137,000 in his former position, serves at the pleasure of the mayor and can be dismissed by him. His salary is being evaluated, Mr. Wilder said.

Mr. Wilder, 74, still likes Mr. Bobb. “He’s a person of great resourcefulness and obviously good appeal — a no-nonsense guy who knows his job and knows how to do it.”

Mr. Wilder, who has not decided if he will seek re-election in 2008, said many people think Mr. Bobb one day will return to Richmond and seek the city’s top office.

Richmond mayors are limited to serving two, four-year terms.

But Mr. Bobb, 59, laughed when asked if he would consider running for mayor of Richmond. He said Mr. Wilder would be a “difficult act to follow,” but noted that Richmond was where he grew professionally.

Mr. Bobb was hired by the District in 2003 after leaving a city managerposition in Oakland, Calif., where he had worked since 1997.

“Timing is everything,” he said. “The timing is just not right. I would definitely consider living in Richmond again, but I’m still figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my career.”

Mr. Wilder, a former Virginia governor, has been instrumental in changing the city’s electoral process for mayor, making the office less ceremonial and more authoritative.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bobb has come under scrutiny from the Office of the D.C. Auditor , which found earlier this year a number of contracting irregularities and questionable payments in the hiring of out-of-town consultants in his office and that of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols said her office is questioning several no-bid consulting deals related to efforts to bring Major League Baseball to the District and to organize a trade mission for city officials to China last year.

Mr. Bobb emerged as a central figure in Mrs. Nichols’ testimony as the office investigated consulting deals involving people whom Mr. Bobb knew from his previous job in Oakland.

In addition to serving in Oakland and Richmond, Mr. Bobb also has been city manager of Santa Ana, Calif., and Kalamazoo, Mich.

During his career, he was appointed to the Virginia State Crime Commission and served on the Board of Visitors of the Virginia Military Institute.

• Jim McElhatton contributed to this report.

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