The three finalists for the Greenville city manager job will be back for another round of interviews on Oct. 18, this time involving elected officials, community stakeholders, and the city’s senior leadership team.
The finalists — Debra Campbell, assistant city manager in Charlotte, North Carolina; Jill Silverboard, deputy city manager in Clearwater, Florida; and Bryan Woods, assistant city manager in New Braunfels, Texas — were among 77 applicants for the job.
Here’s a look at each of the candidates.
Current position: Assistant city manager, Charlotte
Previous positions: Director of planning, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Planning Department
Education: Master’s degree in public administration, Middle Tennessee State University; bachelor’s degree in urban planning, Middle Tennessee State University.
Through her work as Charlotte-Mecklenberg Planning Department director and now an assistant city manager, Campbell has had a role in Charlotte’s transformation into the second fastest growing city in the country.
“Greenville is known as a very progressive place to live and do business but desires to further its position as a well-governed, economically diverse, socially conscientious and engaging city,” Campbell wrote in her candidate questionnaire. “Although there is a lot I could do in Charlotte in an assistant city manager role, the opportunity to help further advance the city of Greenville’s vision in a city manager role is extremely exciting.”
In the questionnaire, Campbell said she has specific responsibility in Charlotte for the planning and development, and housing and neighborhood services departments. She has managed the approval of millions of square feet of commercial and mixed-use development and several thousand residential units.
During the past three years, Charlotte has created 5,000 affordable housing opportunities, and recently adopted a 10-year strategy for community collaboration to increase the supply of affordable housing, Campbell wrote.
Governing Magazine named Campbell one of its Public Officials of the Year in 2007.
Current position: Deputy city manager, Clearwater, Florida
Previous positions: City manager, Madeira Beach, Florida; city manager, Destin, Florida.
Education: Master’s degree in public administration, Western Carolina University; bachelor’s degree in political science and government, Lenoir-Rhyne College.
Throughout her career, Jill Silverboard has worked in high-growth communities.
“Greenville is a premier city with a strong sense of place,” said Silverboard, who grew up in Haywood County in western North Carolina and worked as planning director for the city of Brevard from 1988 to 1990.
She said part of Greenville’s success comes from having a plan and sticking to it. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, she said. She listed transportation, affordable housing, and infrastructure needs.
While she said it is difficult to isolate the challenges, she would pick transportation as the biggest challenge facing Greenville because the city can’t control all aspects of it. Silverboard said she has experience working with the state department of transportation, regional transportation authorities and transit authorities. She said she’s familiar with commuter modeling within a constrained highway and street system, and in Clearwater, she’s working to create multi-model alternatives even in the face of funding limitations.
Silverboard said all of the communities in which she has worked have been actively involved, and had tension among residents, development, and employment interests. “Each community must determine its own threshold and desired outcomes for growth,” she wrote in her candidate questionnaire.
“I believe my background and experience are a unique fit in terms of balancing growth and progress without sacrificing quality of life, said Silverboard, who was a finalist for Pinellas County, Florida administrator.
Current position: Assistant city manager, New Braunfels, Texas
Previous positions: Capital programs manager, New Braunfels; vice president and Texas office director for the consulting, engineering and surveying firm Coyle-SDA Inc.
Education: Master’s degree in public affairs, University of Missouri; bachelor’s degree in construction engineering technology, University of Southern Mississippi.
Greenville shares many of the same challenges as New Braunfels, Texas, where Bryan Woods has served as assistant city manager since June 2017. New Braunfels has consistently been among the fastest growing cities among those with populations over 50,000 residents.
“There are only a handful of cities nationally that possess the economic viability, quality of life, and potential for growth that Greenville has,” Woods wrote in his cover letter. “Harnessing and guiding this type of potential along with the opportunities and challenges that come with it demands a different type of leader.”
Woods said the vision of the community’s leadership and the ability to execute that vision is Greenville’s biggest strength. Shaping and encouraging growth in a way that maintains or enhances Greenville’s character will be a key to its continued success, Woods said.
Woods said New Braunfels was able to begin transitioning from an underperforming on-demand public transportation system to a blended fixed-route system that better serves the community with an almost negligible fiscal impact. He said he oversaw the planning and construction of more than $150 million in facility improvements, and he oversaw the completion of a new 62-acre regional park.