Stamey leaves big shoes to fill
The announcement that Haywood County Manager Marty Stamey is moving on leaves big shoes to fill. He’s worked in the county manager’s office since 2007, first as assistant manager, then as interim, and finally as manager in January 2011.
As a Haywood County native, Stamey not only has a good grasp of the county’s history and geography, but has a deep understanding of its people.
That allowed him to work effectively across the many different service and interest areas that a successful local government must navigate.
While implementing public policy set by a governing board is challenging during the good times, it can be downright tough during an economic downturn. That’s exactly what Stamey encountered. It was a situation he and other department heads in the county faced when $6 million was cut from the county budget and the workforce was reduced to the lowest level in at least six years.
Making the plan work was difficult. While the downturn reduced the workload in the building-related areas, the demand in the social services area skyrocketed as the recession drove unemployment to levels not experienced in decades. Families that had never asked for or needed public assistance in their lives were left no other choice, a situation that taxed certain departments that were expected to function with less help.
Commissioners praised Stamey for the way he was able to balance the downsizing and still move forward, and board members tried their best to convince him to stay.
They ultimately said they understood his need to move on, especially in light of the increased shrillness of local government critics.
Indeed, several commissioners referenced the harsh attacks public servants here have endured in the course of performing their duties.
“I’m all for people making comments and presenting their opinion,” said Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick, “but when it is done in a belligerent manner, over time it wears on you.”
Commissioner Kevin Ensley, too, referenced the remarks of certain citizens as being one the hardest parts of the job.
At one point, Stamey said working in a hospital emergency room was far less stressful than his job as county manager, something that is bound to be extremely trying.
The political environment across the nation — and locally — has indeed turned from respectful disagreement and trying to find a center path into one of incivility. This is unfortunate in a number of ways.
Not only does it make moving forward difficult, but it discourages good people from running for public office and others from choosing public sector careers that often mean lower pay, but greater personal satisfaction for serving the public good.
Stamey said while the stressful working conditions are a factor in his decision at age 55, to explore other options for both his family and a career. But it is by no means a major reason.
“Stress can take a toll over time,” he said, “but other factors went into my decision.”
His interest is in pursuing a position in the health care or emergency service field.
We want to be among the first to thank Stamey for the years he’s dedicated to Haywood County and to wish Ira Dove, the current social services department director, the best of luck during his tenure as interim county manager.