The St. Joseph city manager Gary Edwards resigned Thursday, citing family health issues, according to a city press release.
“I really have no choice in the matter,” Edwards said. “I really hated leaving. It’s a great Mayor and council, great staff, great community. Quite frankly, I’ve never been in a position like this before, which makes it difficult. But on the other hand, I know what’s best on this side, and I know in the long term, because of the sacrifices that would need to be made at work, it’s best for the city also.”
Edwards told Mayor Bill McMurray he was resigning this morning. McMurray was shocked.
“I did, of course, try and talk him out of it, but that’s what has to be done,” McMurray said. “I certainly understand family has to come first.”
McMurray complimented Edwards on his work ethic and involvement in a number of city projects.
“He told me he really loves the city manager type of work,” McMurray said. “He’s willing to put in the hours. Believe me, the job here in St. Joe is a very complex job and it takes a lot of hours to do it. He did it right.”
During a special city council meeting Thursday, city attorney Bryan Carter was named acting city manager by a unanimous vote from council. Edwards personally recommended Carter for the job. On Jan. 25, the city council will vote to name Carter as the interim city manager.
The role has become a revolving door, as Carter now is the fourth city manager in the last year. But Edwards said city staff is more than able to handle it.
“It’s something that does have an impact on the community and city hall when you change city managers,” Edwards said. “On the other hand, with that said, this staff and this Mayor and council have handled and will handle these transition issues very well.”
The city hired Baker Tilly, a search firm, to find Edwards. Since he resigned within two years, the city will be able to use Baker Tilly, free of charge, to find the new city manager.
“A lot of the preliminary work was already done, so we can dust all that off and start advertising now,” McMurray said. “Within maybe another six weeks, I think we can have some candidates that we can take a look at and call the list down and have some interviews. I’m hoping in maybe three months, about the time I hope that the pandemic calms down a little, we’ll be able to introduce a new city manager.”
Even after his resignation, Edwards listed a number of exciting projects in the community, as if he still was on the job.
“After you start listing them, and then giving an update on where the different projects are, you realize all that is going on in the community, and the potential excitement that is coming to St. Joe with all that is being worked on right now,” Edwards said.
Maybe that’s why, despite another departure of a city manager, McMurray is excited for the future of St. Joseph.
“He was only with us a brief time, but we’re going to continue what he’s been working on,” McMurray said. “We’re going to be a great city, even greater as time goes on.”