Incoming CU president Ken Webb tells Council cooperation to be a top priority
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Jul 26, 2013 | 900 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Still three months away from taking the helm at Cleveland Utilities as president and CEO, 26-year CU veteran Ken Webb nonetheless made his first visit earlier this week before members of the Cleveland City Council.

It came by invitation.

“You know Ken already,” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland told his Council colleagues during the late-afternoon formal session. “The utility will be in good hands with Ken’s leadership. He has a good team in place.”

To Webb, who assumes the CU presidency Nov. 1 to succeed the retiring Tom Wheeler, Rowland offered, “The Council just wants you to know we will support you and continue to work with you.”

Rowland represents the Council on the Cleveland Board of Public Utilities. Other members include Aubrey Ector, chairman; Eddie Cartwright, vice chairman; and Chari Buckner and Joe Cate, board members.

The CU board named Webb as its new leader in a formal session on July 8.

As current senior vice president and chief financial officer, Webb confirmed with Council members that for a brief period he might serve in dual roles for the utility until he can appoint his successor to the CFO position.

A Certified Public Accountant since 1979, Webb, 59, was named manager of CU’s Accounting Division in 1988. In 2012, he assumed the title of senior vice president and CFO.

In his first address to the City Council as incoming CU president, Webb pledged to foster the same type of working partnership with city leaders that Wheeler had maintained for 24 years during his own presidency.

“I want to tell you ... that one of my priorities will be that we will maintain a good working relationship with the Council,” Webb told city fathers. “I think that’s the way we move forward as a community. That will be one of my top priorities.”

Webb said he takes his new duties seriously.

“I look forward to this opportunity to serve my community in a little different role than I have for the last 26 years,” he told the Council. “I think it’s an awesome responsibility that has been handed to me, and I look forward to that opportunity.”

The incoming CU president said he, and the entire utility workforce, are aware of the company’s community responsibilities.

“We have a lot of things going for us in this town and I understand, and our employees understand, the important role that Cleveland Utilities plays in keeping that going in the right direction,” Webb stressed.

The incoming CEO said his door will always be open and he remains “... just a phone call away.”

Webb credited the Council for its past support of CU initiatives.

Rowland described the CFO as having a reputation among utility board and Council members as being “responsive” with answers to questions in a timely fashion. The mayor said he is aware of three different Council members who sent letters to the utility board chairman endorsing Webb as the new CU president.

District 5 Councilman Dale Hughes, who served as utility board chairman prior to being appointed — and later elected — to the Council, praised Webb’s attributes.

“What a great asset that Ken has been to the city of Cleveland,” Hughes said. “One thing about it, when you have a situation where a person is going to become manager, but he has been the CFO and he knows all the hoops to jump through financially, it’s a tremendous asset to have.”

Of Webb’s professional reputation, Hughes cited, “If Ken tells you something, then you can take it to the bank. He’s solid.”

A member of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Webb has served as a panel member and chairman for the United Way of Bradley County Distribution Panel and as a member on the Bradley County Tax Equalization Board.

Currently, he is a member of Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club, Life Bridges Inc. board of directors, United Way Emergency Assistance Committee, United Way board of directors and Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants.