When Scott Somers moved across the country from Oregon to College Park in September 2015 to become the city's manager, he said he could envision himself retiring here.
"[There's] just so much potential and opportunity in this city," he said.
More than a year later, the College Park City Council has renewed Somers' contract and agreed to rewrite it, according to a Nov. 21 mayoral update. The new agreement states the contract will be automatically renewed for years to come unless the mayor and council decide, with a majority vote, to terminate Somers' employment.
Somers' dismissal seems unlikely, as city Mayor Patrick Wojahn and District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir both said Somers is doing a fantastic job as city manager. In his position, Somers is responsible for overseeing all city services, implementing policies established by the council, and appointing and managing department heads, according to College Park's website.
"I'm pretty pleased with his responsiveness, and he's a very good partner," Kabir said. "He listens and he makes things easier for the councilmembers … because we depend a lot on him to get things done."
In addition to an automatic renewal, the council also granted Somers a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment, as well as a 2.5 percent merit increase, according to the mayoral update.
Since Somers arrived, he said one of the things he's most proud of is the increase in communication between the city and it residents, as well as the University of Maryland.
The job is "about building relationships … continuing to work with the mayor and council [and] improving constituent services," Somers said. He cited specific outreach expansions such as the improved College Park website and the city's new and revived social media presence on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
"Communication and relationships has really been one of the biggest of successes," Somers said. "We've added social media [and] we're reaching I think a broader audience because of that."
The city is continuing to explore new ways, specifically with technology, to benefit residents, Wojahn said, noting that Somers has played a large role in "moderniz[ing] the way we do things." Somers, along with the council, is working on software — most likely a smartphone app — that would allow residents to report a problem, such as a pothole or downed wires. The app would allow users to track their service request as it's completed, Wojahn said.
"He's really brought in a new perspective, helps us think about how we do things in a different way," Wojahn said. "His first year has really been eye-opening for the city."