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November 16, 2022

Worcester appoints Batista permanent city manager, becoming first Latino to hold the powerful role

Photo | Courtesy City of Worcester Worcester City Manager Eric Batista

After six months, Eric Batista can drop the word “acting” from his title.

Batista, who has served as acting city manager since former city manager Edward Augustus stepped down from his position at the end of May, was approved for the role permanently after the City Council on Tuesday night voted 8-3 to appoint him as Worcester city manager after abandoning plans for a nationwide search.

Batista is the first Latino to hold the office in the City of Worcester.

“He definitely has all the qualifications, as proven to me over the last several months,” Mayor Joseph Petty said. “He has a great handle on all the issues. People are looking for some permanency here in the community, whether it be community groups, developers, or the business community here in the city of Worcester.”

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce lauded the pick of Batista as city manager.

"We believe based upon our experiences in working with Mr. Batista in his various roles at city hall and during his tenure as the Acting City Manager that he will bring a professionalism and work ethic that will continue the economic momentum in the city as well as address the complex challenges and opportunities that present themselves to the city," Timothy Murray, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said in a statement on Wednesday, "Moreover, Mr. Batista’s experience coming to Worcester from Puerto Rico with his family as a seven-year-old child is the quintessential Worcester story."

The move was not without controversy as Councilors-at-Large Khrystian King and Thu Nguyen and District 5 Councilor Etel Haxhiaj voted against the appointment. The votes were not necessarily against Batista himself, but because they would have preferred to have a national search or a community process in hiring a city manager.

“He would have outshined (other candidates), but we’ll never know that that was a possibility. That is a cloud that will hang over his head, and that is unfair,” District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera, who voted in favor of the appointment, said regarding the lack of a search process.

The City Council voted 10-1 in May to approve a request for proposals from firms to conduct a search for city manager candidates. After only one bid was submitted, the council voted 6-5 on Oct. 25 to abandon the search.

The next step in the process is for the City and Batista to negotiate a contract.

The City of Worcester uses a council-manager, or Plan E, form of government, where the city manager is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city and answers to the city council members, who are elected. The mayor is a part-time position and part of the city council.

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