Aretha Ferrell-Benavides came to Petersburg from that state in 2017; this position is in the city of Killeen

PETERSBURG — City Manager Aretha Ferrell-Benavides is one of four finalists for a city manager's job in Texas.

According to the government website in Killeen, Texas, Ferrell-Benavides and the other finalists will be in Killeen Nov. 1-2 for interviews with the Killeen City Council and a citizens panel, and will tour the city and meet with city staff. The website said the interviews will take place beginning at 5 p.m. Nov. 1 and will be open to the public.

After the round of interviews, the city is hosting a reception for the public to meet and talk with the candidates.

"A nationwide search produced 29 applicants," a statement on the Killeen website read. "Each was vetted through a comprehensive questionnaire, online interviews, psychometric assessment, background checks and media searches. City Council utilized this information in selecting four finalists."

Messages left for Ferrell-Benavides at her office seeking comment on her Killeen interview have not yet been answered.

Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham said late Thursday afternoon he was "very thrilled" that Ferrel-Benavides is in the running for a job that would advance her career.

"I'm glad she is getting the type of recognition she deserves for doing such a great job in Petersburg," Parham said, adding that he was previously aware that she had applied for the Texas position.

Parham also said her selection as a finalist also should bode well for Petersburg as a whole, building respect in municipal circles for its efforts at turning around the city's fiscal house that was on the verge of collapse just a few years ago.

"They are noticing the good work she is doing here," Parham said. "Out of everything we've been through, that just speaks volumes."

Killeen, with a population of around 127,000 people, is located in central Texas. It is about 150 miles south of Dallas and 70 north of Austin, the state capital.

Ferrell-Benavides has been Petersburg's city manager since 2017, but she had previous municipal experience in Texas. Prior to her Petersburg arrival, she was city manager of Glenn Heights, a city about 140 miles north of Killeen.

The other three finalists for the position are Kent Cagle, former city manager of Leander, Texas; Torry Edwards, who retired last year as city manager of Terrell, Texas; and Stephen Williams, assistant city manager and chief financial officer of Conroe, Texas.

Cagle is suing the city of Leander for more than $1 million, alleging he was fired after whistleblowing on law violations by a Leander elected official, according to published reports.

Edwards, the retired city manager of Terrell, was the target of allegations of sexual harassment by a city employee. Prior to the allegations going public, published reports said the Terrell City Council had voted 4-1 not to renew his contract.

Bill Atkinson can be reached at or 804-722-5167. On Twitter: @BAtkinsonpi. Staff Writer Sean Jones contributed to this report.