Monday, May 16, 2022

JCC picks city manager from North Carolina as new county administrator

Scott Stevens will begin as James City County's Administrator beginning October 1. (WYDaily/ Courtesy James City County)
Scott Stevens will begin as James City County’s Administrator beginning October 1. (WYDaily/ Courtesy James City County)

James City County has named its new administrator.

Scott Stevens will assume the role of county administrator Oct. 1 after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint him. He will take over for Bill Porter, who has served in the role on an interim basis since former administrator Bryan Hill left for Fairfax County in January.

The board’s vote Tuesday concluded a nationwide search through a consulting firm for Hill’s long-term successor. Stevens was one of three finalists for the position.

“James City County has high standards, and so we made our consultants go out again and say, ‘Let’s make sure that we have the best people to interview,'” Supervisor John McGlennon said. “I think we had some excellent finalists but it was remarkable that we all focused on the choice that was made this evening as the person who should lead us forward as the county administrator for the next several years.”

Stevens comes from Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he has been city manager since August 2011.

“I am excited to be named the James City County Administrator,” Stevens said in a county press release. “I grew up visiting my grandmother in this area and consider it a second home.  I want to thank the Board of Supervisors for their confidence in me and look forward to working with the board, employees and citizens for the betterment of our community.”

Stevens was appointed to a three-year term. As county administrator, Stevens will be responsible for developing the annual budget and overseeing the day-to-day operations of county employees.

Shared priorities

A look at his resume shows Stevens has been working in government since 1990, when he began as a project planning engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. After eight years with NCDoT, he took his first local government job: city engineer for Kinston, North Carolina.

He worked his way up to become Kinston’s city manager, a position he held from March 2007 to June 2011. He then moved to Goldsboro and has served as its city manager since.

Stevens said the greatest accomplishment he and his staff shared in Goldsboro was revitalizing downtown.

“They had talked about that before I arrived,” Stevens said. “Four blocks were completely rebuilt door-to-door, from business to business, about 140 feet wide, and just transformed it from a vehicle space to a pedestrian space with the idea that it was backed by private investment. … It has been a very successful project in terms of community buy-in.”

Economic development, managing community growth and working toward affordable housing will be priorities Stevens said he and the Board of Supervisors will share.

“First and foremost for me is trying to make sure I’m following what the Board of Supervisors thinks is the vision for the community, because they are the elected representatives and most of them have a vested interest there. They grew up there or have a business interest,” Stevens said.

Stevens said his first order of business will be sitting down with the board and discussing in specifics their priorities and vision for the county, as well as ways in which they can work together to implement those goals.

“This is an exciting time for James City County’s citizens, employees, businesses, regional partners, and the elected and appointed boards of the County,” Board Chair Ruth Larson said in a press release. “The hiring of a county administrator is an opportunity to continue our commitment to the important work and goals of our Strategic Plan. We look forward to working together with Scott as we continue to meet the challenges of our growing community. On behalf of my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, we want to welcome Scott and look forward to a long and productive working relationship with him.”

Supervisors McGlennon, Sue Sadler and Jim Icenhour said they were each impressed by Stevens’ leadership ability and expressed confidence that he would work well together with county staff.

“He’s very well prepared, he’s very personable, very direct,” Icenhour said. “When you’re having a conversation he looks you right in the eye and he gave pointed responses. When you asked a very specific question you got a very specific answer.”

Tidewater connections

Born and raised in Cary, Stevens has lived in North Carolina his whole life. However, he said he’s comfortable knowing that his first home outside of the Tar Heel State will be an area he’s visited extensively. His grandmother had a home in Seaford, and he said his visits were a big reason why he was happy to move to the area.

“It’s knowing the area and having an appreciation before you show up, so that certainly made it attractive,” he said. “You look at the growth of the county, it seems to be a steady growth rate which is really nice to be part of as well. A lot of good things are going on there … It’s a great looking place from the outside.”

There are some differences between Goldsboro and James City County. While they both have a military presence, Goldsboro is not the tourist destination Greater Williamsburg is, and Stevens said James City County population is growing substantially faster than Goldsboro’s. There are also different state laws for local governments to navigate, but he hopes to get to work quickly with both staff and community members.

“I have some learning to do, and then figuring out who are the community members that are working to make it a better place, to make it better,” he said.

Stevens said he’ll be working closely with staff and has an early goal of meeting each county employee. He’ll also get to know the different department heads, such as police and fire, and lay the foundation for working together with them over the coming years.

“I hope that people will find me very approachable, very responsive,” he said. “I can’t always say ‘yes,’ but I can always respond and tell them why we can help or why we cannot.”

He added, “I’m really excited to meet folks in the community. I encourage them to reach out to me and say, ‘Hello.’”

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