Sanders selected as Charlottesville’s next City Manager

One of Charlottesville’s two deputy city managers is City Council’s choice to be Charlottesville’s next top official.

“It’s a big job and I’m ready to give it my all,” said Sam Sanders who has been Deputy City Manager for Operations since July 2021.

Sanders had been hired by then-City Manager Chip Boyles. He came to Charlottesville after serving for 18 years as the executive director of the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“I believe I bring a unique perspective having been in the trenches here for the past two years, learning and trying to understand what makes this place tick,” Sanders said. “I have been able to settle in and I’ve remained here because I really see way in which I can contribute.”

Incoming Charlottesville City Manager Sam Sanders at the press conference announcing his appointment

Sanders was one of more than 20 applicants for the position and one of four people who were interviewed. Mayor Charlottesville Lloyd Snook went through some of the commonalities between the candidates.

“They all had experience at top levels of municipal leadership,” Snook said. “They all had success. They all had done their homework to understand the challenges that this job brings. They all saw in the Charlottesville job an opportunity to help a city that had been through some tough times recently.”

The position of city manager has been held since January 2022 by Michael C. Rogers, who took himself out of consideration last week. Snook took the opportunity to thank him for his service.

“He brought stability at a time when we badly needed it in the City Manager’s office,” Snook said. “In the last 18 months, Mr. Rogers has reminded us that good things happen in government when you’re patient, when you have a breadth of experience, and when you cultivate relationships.”

Sanders said he acknowledges that Charlottesville has a “rich and complicated history.” He said he will continue to work toward a future where all residents have access and opportunity.

“Our little city is on the world map and I am encouraged that it is not simply because of the events of 2017,” Sanders said. “What I want to see is us achieving an evolution from that series of events to reclaim our narrative and one that will inspire us and other communities.”

Sanders said Charlottesville is not a city that runs away from its problems and is working to address systemic issues that plague other communities.

“We absolutely do have two life experiences here in Charlottesville and we can do what we need to do to bridge that divide,” Sanders said. “We must intervene with long and enduring efforts to reduce gun violence. We have to produce and preserve affordable housing. We have to work effectively to address the many challenges facing our unhoused population and we have to ensure this government remains strong, functional, financially sound, and disciplined.”

Council will hold a formal vote to elevate Sanders to the position on Monday night. City Councilor Leah Puryear said it has been an honor to work with Sanders since she was appointed to fill a vacancy earlier this year after serving four terms on the Charlottesville School Board.

“The thing that I respect most about you, Sam, is that you say things that I often said to my students,” Puryear said. “If you have a problem or you want something changed, come see me, but when you come, you have to bring a solution and we will work it out together. You’ve been that for me, and I look forward to the remainder of my term for you continuing to be that for me.”

Sanders said he is looking forward to work with anyone who is ready to help bring solutions to city government. He also thanked his fellow Deputy City Manager Ashley Marshall for her continued service. Sanders also lauded Rogers’ service for the past year and a half.

“A year and a half with this guy who has been a steadfast contributor to the idea of ‘let’s get some stuff done and let’s bring back boring government,” Sanders said. “It is my charge to keep it here.”

For more on Sander’s work to date, go back and read through some articles of his tenure to date.

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the July 12, 2023 edition of the program. You can also listen to the audio version there in the podcast. One day I’ll have all of that audio cross-posted here, too!
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