Already a subscriber? Log in
- Unparalleled business coverage of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids corridor.
- Immediate access to subscriber-only content on our website.
- 52 issues per year delivered digitally, in print or both.
- Support locally owned and operated journalism.
Rock Island city leaders are celebrating the hiring of Galesburg City Manager Todd Thompson, calling their newly appointed city manager the right choice to help lead Rock Island to a brighter future. On Monday, March 14, the Rock Island City Council unanimously approved hiring Mr. Thompson for the post. It’s likely to be May, however, before he replaces Interim City Manager John Gripp. Mr. Thompson’s current contract with Galesburg, Illinois, which he has led for more than a decade, requires him to give a 60-day notice of his departure. Mr. Gripp, who also is Rock Island’s executive director of parks and recreation, took on the interim city manager position after Randy Tweet retired as city manager in December 2021. Mr. Thompson told the Galesburg (Illinois) Register Mail before Monday night's vote, "It is a real honor to be selected to be the next city manager in Rock Island. I am looking forward to working with the mayor, city council, city staff, and community members to advance their goals and provide great services.” "I appreciate the opportunity to serve in Galesburg and will leave with many good memories,” he added. “I will always be grateful to those who supported me during my work here." Mr. Thompson will lead Rock Island staff as the city determines how to invest $26.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. He’s also likely to play a role in helping the city and new Community and Economic Development Director Miles Brainard grow Rock Island, including the effort to find a developer for the large shovel-ready 11th Street tract of land. The site has remained vacant since Wal-Mart pulled out of its commitment to build a superstore there. “I’m excited to have Todd Thompson join us as city manager,” Alderman Jenni Swanson, Fourth Ward, told the QCBJ on Tuesday. “He has a wealth of experience and knowledge that he brings with him. I look at what he has accomplished in Galesburg and feel this is a turning point for Rock Island.” Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms also took a moment to add his endorsement following Monday’s unanimous council vote. “I had an opportunity to visit with both Todd and his wife,” Mr. Thoms said. “I can say that the citizens of Rock Island and the City of Rock Island are gaining great individuals. We look forward to working with Todd and making the future very bright.” Alderman Judith Higgins Gilbert, Third Ward, told the crowd after Monday’s vote: “I believe that Todd has the strengths, skills and experience that will make Rock Island a better place to live, work and play.” Among the things that impressed her, she said, is that he shares her conservative approach to incentives. She also is pleased that Mr. Thompson wants to improve and expand the city’s current line-item budget to include more detail as well as ensure that the strategic plan drives the budget and is continually updated. Mr. Thompson also stressed, she added, “city staff and elected officials are here to serve the residents and I’m glad he recognized that.” Under the terms of Mr. Thompson’s recently inked contract with the City of Rock Island, he will be paid $177,500 a year plus 5% of his annual salary in deferred compensation through the International City Manager Association (ICMA) 457 Plan. The contract, which can be found here, also includes $10,000 for relocation expenses and requires that Mr. Thompson reside in Rock Island within six months. The new city manager initially will receive two weeks vacation as well as one week of personal leave at the start of the new fiscal year in 2023. He also will receive a $30 a month cell phone allowance if he chooses to use his own phone, and a $500 per month automobile allowance in lieu of mileage reimbursement. Mr. Thompson, who also had been a finalist for Scott County administrator in 2016, was chosen from a pool of 36 applicants and a trio of finalists. The latter included Gerald Smith, city manager of Creedmore, North Carolina, and Richard Keehner, former village manager of Villa Park, Illinois. Mr. Keehner previously worked for the City of East Moline for nine years including as economic development director, assistant city administrator and city administrator. Before that, he was director of community and administrative service for nearby Carbon Cliff. According to his LinkedIn biography, Mr. Thompson has been in public administration since serving as an administrative intern for the City of Collinsville, Illinois, in 1994. He joined Galesburg as city manager in January 2011. Prior to that, he was city manager for the City of Mexico, Missouri. Other previous stops included assistant city administrator for Raymore, Missouri; management assistant in public works for Lee's Summit, Missouri; and administrative assistant to the city administrator for Smithville, Missouri. Mr. Thompson holds a bachelor of arts in political science and a masters of public administration from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.