Even though he has only been here for six weeks, Alexandria's new city manager triggered a milestone in city history no one can recall happening before. He was the impetus to bring all the local civic associations together under one roof simultaneously without a major problem — perceived or real.
More than 160 civic association representatives gathered on The Cherry Blossom paddlewheeler Sunday afternoon to officially welcome James Hartmann to the city. It was brought about under the aegis of the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations.
"It's very exciting to have you all together for a concerted purpose. Hopefully, this will be the harbinger of things to come," said Mayor William D. Euille.
"Jim has all the qualities we were looking for in our nationwide search for a new city manager. But, his success is going to depend on everyone working together," Euille said.
He also urged each civic association to invite him to their individual meeting, "So I can give each of you a personal State of The City report," he said. Euille will be giving his annual State of The City address at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce breakfast Feb. 25.
"I can give you a preview by saying the city is doing great. And, we [Mayor and council] are dedicated to lowering the tax rate," he said. The latter brought a round of applause.
EUILLE WAS introduced by Jim Butler, co-chair of the event along with David Olinger, both of the Federation and their particular civic associations. "Euille was recently honored by having a street named after him in the new Chatham Square," Butler said. "And, that is a fitting tribute."
Chatham Square is the revitalized area now taking shape, formally known as Samuel Madden Homes or "The Berg." It previously contained Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing. It will now be a mixed residential project of market value and public housing.
Olinger introduced Hartmann noting "Following that search we know we got the right man." He also explained that Hartmann came to Alexandria from South Carolina but was actually a native of Berkeley, Calif., across the bay from San Francisco.
"This is a very humbling experience," Hartmann said referring to the crowd assembled before him. "We have lots to do to protect this world class city," he said.
"I've only been here six weeks, but I'm constantly being made aware of things to do. These past six weeks have been very challenging," Hartmann said.
"One of things we will be doing is shoving the leadership down the line to spread it out among my very capable staff," he said. He particularly thanked Mark Jinks, assistant city manager, Fiscal and Financial Affairs, and Michele Evans, assistant city manager, Council Relations and Administration, for their specific assistance since he has been on the scene.
HARTMANN WENT on to point out that his family is still in South Carolina because they have two children that are in their junior and senior year of high school. "We decided not to move them at this time in their lives," he said.
Prior to his managerial position in Spartanburg County, Hartmann spent 13 years in Orlando, Fla., and three and one half years in Eagle County, Colo. "It was all these places that prepared me for Alexandria.
"I welcome your input. I think citizenship is all about citizen participation," Hartmann said. He also admitted later, "No other place I have been ever did anything like this for me."
Joining the host of association representatives, mayor and Hartmann at the event were Vice Mayor Redella "Del" Pepper, Council members Ludwig Gaines, Andrew Macdonald, and Paul Smedberg along with members of the city Planning Commission and other city government areas.