Shawn Purvis has announced that he will be leaving his position as city manager for the City of Clinton, a role he has served for nearly four years. His last day is slated for April 20.
Purvis broke the news to city officials, department heads and others during meetings Friday. The full official announcement will not be made until Tuesday, coinciding with an announcement by Purvis’ next employer. Purvis requested that specifics on that job not be released until then, but noted that he is moving on to a similar position in local government at a larger municipality in North Carolina.
“This has all kind of transpired this week,” Purvis said when reached Friday. “I’ve spoken with the mayor and Council for the last couple days. I wanted to make sure they knew first. Then I met with department heads today. I’ll be going around and talking with other teams as well, just to see if anybody has any thoughts or concerns, but I am just one piece of the puzzle. Everything is going to continue on.”
When he departs near the end of April, it will bring to a close a nine-year stint serving Clinton.
Purvis began his career with the City of Clinton in May 2008 as the assistant city manager and also assumed the role of finance officer in January 2011. He was named the interim city manager in 2013 following former manager John Connet’s departure to Hendersonville and the Council selected Purvis as its permanent manager six months later, in November 2013.
Purvis was just the fourth different manager for the city in the past four decades.
Before coming to Clinton in 2008, Purvis interned with the Town of Hillsborough and the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Purvis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and his Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The city manager noted he still has seven weeks to deal with some of the city’s pressing matters, including the search for a new police chief following Jay Tilley’s announcement at the beginning of this year that he would be retiring. He is set to retire the week after Purvis leaves. Purvis said the matter will be further discussed in the weeks to come. An assessment center to narrow down the short list of candidates and select the top chief prospect is scheduled for the end of this month.
“There’s definitely a lot of mixed emotions,” said Purvis of his own departure. “Nine years is not super long, but it’s still a considerable amount of time. I’ve been very comfortable here. I was very fortunate with the opportunity that John gave me and then that the mayor and City Council have given me. They have been great to work with. This wasn’t a situation where I felt ‘I’ve got to leave, I’ve got to leave’ — it wasn’t that at all. This opportunity came along, both personally and professionally, and it’s something that I am excited about.”
Purvis said he was not actively looking for anything else, but when this particular opportunity arose, he threw his hat in the ring. He went after something he believed would be a positive progression, personally and professionally.
“After thinking through it and considering it, I gave it a shot. It just kind of worked out,” Purvis stated, before noting, “There have been so many positive things here.”
There are a fair share of short-term projects, he noted, but the bulk of the heavy-lifting includes budgetary matters and capital projects, ensuring the city can be in a good place 20 or 30 years from now because of the efforts being made today by people citywide, Council included. He lauded Council members and city staff for their foresight and dedication over the years.
“We do a lot in Clinton. I think people really underestimate what we accomplish for a town our size. There is always something that is going to be moving forward,” Purvis said. “We are part of a process that is continuing and you just hope you’re doing the right things for the community. There are a lot of things I will never see to completion. In some ways, it’s a little sad to think of it that way just because you put a lot of time and effort into those things and you want to see them completed. At the same time, you know it’s part of a much bigger picture.”
He and wife Sara are both originally from Wilmington, but have called Clinton home for many years. They have two children, 8-year-old twins Joshua and Anna. Purvis said Clinton has been amazing to his family.
“Clinton has been fantastic to my family and me,” Purvis said. “It was certainly not an easy decision. It was absolutely going to take the right fit for me to say ‘I’m willing to move, I’m willing to do this.’ It’s hard to replace what I have been fortunate to be a part of here.”
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