By Steve Large

The Sacramento City Council has extended a job offer to a candidate for city manager in a closed session, with Mayor Kevin Johnson providing the only opposing vote to the potential new hire.

Council members voted 8-1 in a closed session to approve John Shirey to the high profile, volatile job that has seen five people move through the position in six years. The role of city manager has been empty since Ray Kerridge resigned nearly half a year ago following the “permit-gate” scandal.

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City hall insiders told CBS13 that Mayor Johnson was unhappy with the selection process and chose not to participate in most of the interviews, only stepping in to vote on the final cut. Johnson said Wednesday that he was simply allowing others to whittle down the list of candidates.

“I think my challenge has been, we’ve had three city managers since I’ve been here,” Johnson said.

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Shirey already works in Sacramento as the head of the California Redevelopment Association, which is facing collapse after state budget cuts. He used to work as an assistant city manager in Long Beach and was city manager in Cincinnati, where he resigned in 2001 after a high-profile, three day race riot broke out in the city streets.

Johnson said he was unaware of Shirey’s role during the Cincinnati riots and Councilmember Jay Schenirer said he could not comment on the matter.

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The City Council’s approval now allows Shirey to work out a contract with Sacramento for the position. If he accepts it, the City Council will then vote on the issue during an open session, possibly several weeks from now.