Davidson is going through a transition that it hasn’t experienced in a quarter-century, with incoming Town Manager Jamie Justice beginning work Nov. 16, according to an employment contract approved unanimously be the town board Oct. 27.
Outgoing Town Manager Leamon Brice, who is retiring effective Dec. 31 as the town’s chief administrator, said he will work closely with Justice during the brief overlap in their tenures.
“I won’t have (an office space at Town Hall) because we don’t have one,” Brice told commissioners after they had approved the next manager’s contract. “(But) I anticipate being here a good bit at least the first two weeks, and after that as Jamie needs me or whatever the case may be.”
Commissioner Brian Jenest joked that maybe Brice didn’t really need an official office. “He has a nice car,” Jenest said, implying that maybe Brice’s vehicle would do the trick.
“I’ll just park out front,” Brice replied with a chuckle.
Brice, 59, is the only town manager that Mecklenburg County’s nothernmost municipality has had. His 25 years of knowledge and role in the town’s growth will be impossible to replicate, Mayor John Woods said.
“I know this is sort of a rolling piece of work for us but it will take on its own life,” Woods said of the transition. “(Justice has) a lot to get involved in, a lot to learn, a lot of loose ends and pieces to pull together, and we’ll all help him through that.”
Brice said he’s leaving the pace of his successor’s learning curve up to Justice.
“I asked him, ‘Do you want sort of a trickle in on the orientation or do you want to just get blasted with the fire hose?’” Brice said, “and he chose the fire hose.”
Brice said Justice’s informal transition was set to begin with a get-together with the town’s leadership team at Brice’s home Oct. 28. Another “social” gathering with the town board is planned before Justice’s first day on the job, Woods said.
Justice, 43, a former Mooresville town manager, currently earns $104,500 as assistant town manager in Matthews. In Davidson, he’ll start out making $125,000, about $10,000 less than the outgoing Brice.
Commissioners didn’t address Justice’s tenure in Mooresville, which ended when he resigned under pressure from commissioners critical of his management of the town’s sewer plant expansion contract.
At the Oct. 27 meeting, however, Brice took the unusual step of complimenting Davidson commissioners for their choice of his successor.
“I think y’all did a great job,” Brice said. “I think the process worked really well, and I think you made a great choice. … I look forward to working with Jamie, even after Dec. 31, if I can help in some way, but I think he’ll do a great job for you.”
Justice will begin with a 7 1 /2 -month contract, through June 30, the end of the town’s fiscal year. Commissioners will have the option to renew the contract annually. In addition to his salary and benefits, Justice will get a $500-per-month vehicle allowance, as well as reimbursement for membership dues and other expenses such as Davidson College events.
John Deem is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.