On Tuesday night, Clerk of Courts Ed Simonian made it official. James K. Hartmann swore to uphold the laws of the
United States and the Commonwealth and, to the best of his abilities, execute the duties of city manager of the City of Alexandria.
“I’ve been on the job for only two days but it has been exhilarating,” Hartmann said after taking the oath of office at this week’s City Council meeting. “Assimilating all of the information has been a bit daunting but I made the right decision in coming here.”
Hartmann was named city manager in November, replacing Phillip Sunderland who announced his resignation last summer. Most recently, Hartmann served as county administrator for
Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Prior to that, he was the county administrator in Eagle County, Colorado. Before that, he worked in Orange County, Florida in a variety of increasingly responsible administrative positions.
JUST BEFORE Christmas, Hartmann brought his family to town to look for an apartment and to meet his new staff.
“I’ve rented an apartment and we have spent some time walking around town and getting acquainted with
Alexandria ,” said James Hartmann. He came to Alexandria on Dec. 18 to locate housing and to meet his new staff.
“We have vacationed in the area before and have family and friends here so we aren’t completely unfamiliar with Alexandria but it is different now that I will be living here,” he said.
Hartmann will be moving to the city without his family at least for the next 18 months or so. “Lindsey is a senior and Nathan is a junior in high school,” Hartmann said. “We moved the kids once in the middle of the school year and learned a great deal from that experience. When we decided that I was going to accept this job, we also decided that Marcia and the kids would stay in South Carolina until Nathan finishes high school next year.”
How do the kids feel about that decision? “I will miss my dad but it won’t really be a big deal for me,” said Lindsey. “I will be graduating in June and hope to attend college in this area. It will be good to know that my dad is already here and that I will be close to him next year.” Lindsey’s first choice in schools is William and Mary.
“I won’t know until April but I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey is 17, an honor student and member of her high school debate team. “I want to study international relations,” she said.
Her brother Nathan was less talkative. “It will be a little bit hard but it will be all right,” he said about his father moving to Alexandria.
As for Marcia, “We will visit a lot,” she said. “I will come up as much as I can and the kids will take turns. We really believe that it’s the right thing for all of us at this point.”
WHAT CAN Alexandrians expect from Hartmann in the first six months of his tenure here? “I am going to listen a lot,” he said. “I have been very impressed with the City Council and the staff and I want to get to know them better and to understand how the city works and the issues that are important here.
“I know that I am going to have to prepare a budget very soon after I arrive so I am prepared to learn very quickly but the key really is listening,” he said.
He hopes to get out to meet citizens as well. “Some citizens have already reached out to me by e-mail,” he said. “I want to get out to civic association meetings and listen to what people have to say. I really do believe that it is a good thing for citizens to participate in government.”
Hartmann will present his first budget to council in early March.