After committing earlier this year to a nationwide search for a new city manager, a majority of Worcester’s city councilors have now decided the search is no longer necessary.

During a meeting Tuesday night, the councilors — including Mayor Joseph Petty — voted 6-5 to suspend the search because they want to hire acting City Manager Eric Batista permanently for the role he has held the past five months.

“The city’s doing well, and I think Eric Batista is doing well,” Petty said. “He’s a known quantity here in the city of Worcester.”

After councilors voted to end the search, Petty proposed a motion to formally hire Batista permanently. Councilor Khrystian King held that motion, likely delaying that vote until the council’s next meeting scheduled for Nov. 15.

King and other councilors agreed Batista’s background made him an ideal candidate for the job, and they expressed confidence the search process would end with him as the next city manager. Still, they said the search is critical to show the city is vetting different candidates and being transparent with the hiring decision.

“What does process guarantee? It guarantees that we get it right, that we have all the information,” King said. “[Batista] hasn't had the opportunity to do what we want to do, which is talk about his vision.”

Under Worcester’s form of government, the city manager “shall be the chief administrative and executive officer of the city.” The city’s charter gives the democratically elected council the power to hire and fire the city manager.

In April, City Council voted 10-1 to conduct the nationwide search in response to the city’s former manager stepping down. The council also appointed Batista acting manager until a permanent replacement was hired, though some councilors at the time expressed concern that they had not seen Batista's resume and did not want the city to hire a permanent city manager without a thorough vetting process.

Since then, King has led efforts in a city council subcommittee to hire a search firm that would seek candidates from across the country. Prior to the vote to suspend the search, council members were considering hiring the firm GovHR USA to review potential candidates.

But Petty began fueling doubts about the future of the search when he expressed support for ending it during an appearance on a Worcester radio show in September. His stance on the issue created fresh divisions among councilors and residents.

During the public comment period at Tuesday’s meeting, some speakers advocated for the city to continue the search while numerous others recommended the city immediately hire Batista. Noting his Puerto Rican heritage, several people said hiring him would represent progress for a city that has struggled with diversity.

“I’m a Puerto Rican, and I thought in my lifetime I would not see a person of color have an opportunity to become the city manager of this city,” Jose Perez said.

The six councilors who voted in favor of ending the search Tuesday said that continuing it would be a waste of time and money. They argued they prefer to hire someone with experience running Worcester, like Batista, rather than an outsider. Councilor Kate Toomey added the uncertainty around the position is making it harder for the city to attract new employees and fill a labor shortage.

“Why would we delay longer?” Toomey said. “We have … about 170 positions open. If [job-seekers] knew who their boss was going to be, I bet you those would be filled a lot quicker.”

But several other councilors said forgoing the search was short-sighted and amounted to the council not fulfilling its duty to hold a fair and transparent search process.

“To not do a search to me is just lazy and apathetic and a little bit cheap. I'm so confused why we would vote 'no' to a search? Let's do our job,” Councilor Thu Nguyen said.

Born in Puerto Rico before moving to Worcester as a child, Batista has been the first person of Latin American descent to run the city. He’s worked his way up city ranks from project manager to chief of operations and management before becoming acting manager.

Although Councilor Sarai Rivera said Batista is ready to assume the position permanently, she said the search is still critical to avoid the possibility that the public sees his hiring as a sham or form of cronyism.

“Taking [the search] away from the community will only bring him into an administration with a cloud,” she said. “He deserves better than that.”