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Charlottesville looks to Sam Sanders for stability as new city manager

Sanders will be the city's first permanent city manager in two years

Prior to this announcement, Sanders worked as deputy city manager for operations since July 2021.
Prior to this announcement, Sanders worked as deputy city manager for operations since July 2021.

Sam Sanders will enter the position of city manager starting August 1, following the City’s two year struggle to fill the position. Sanders said that he hopes to provide clear communications to the Charlottesville community as well as a sense of stability in the role. 

Charlottesville has seen five city managers since 2017 — something Sanders attributed to a tumultuous few years for the city as a whole. Sanders said he hopes to change the narrative surrounding both the city manager role and Charlottesville in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily.

“The city has been through a lot over the years,” Sanders said. “And today [the city] carries a stigma as a difficult place to work…we can do better and we are. We are addressing the longstanding issues that have fed that narrative.”

The role saw major turnover starting in 2020, when Tarron Richardson resigned as city manager less than two years into the job — he had succeeded Maurice Jones, who served for almost eight years. John Blair, who was also the city attorney, filled the position and served until Chip Boyles took on the role in 2021. Boyles resigned following backlash after firing the city’s police chief, Rashall Brackney. He spent only ten months in the position. 

Michael Rogers has served as interim city manager since 2022. The city hired outside consulting firm the Robert-Bobb Group to aid in the search for the position before landing on Rogers. Key accomplishments range from working to fill positions on city staff as well as working to build a strategic plan focused on digital internal infrastructure.

Upon entering the position, Sanders will work with Rogers to ease the transition.

Sanders said he plans to ensure individuals are fairly paid by raising minimum wage as well as improve communication efforts within the City of Charlottesville and to community members. Prior to this announcement, Sanders worked as deputy city manager for operations since July 2021. In this position, he led efforts to improve the functionality of departments ranging from housing to transit. 

“I will aspire to be clear, consistent, decisive, and inclusive with the staff and public,” Sanders said. “By leading this way, I think we will find our city better in the long run.”

The selection process, executed by the Council, involved narrowing to three candidates prior to Sanders’ selection. The identities of the other candidates were not revealed. In its search, the Council emphasized finding a city manager to provide stability in city government and serve long-term. 

The Council announced Sanders as their chosen city manager on July 12, applauding his abilities to deal with dysfunction within city departments during his time as deputy city manager.

Sanders held  a “Meet your city manager” event from 5 to 7 p.m July 20. at Carver Recreation Center. Questions can be submitted in advance. A streaming option is available for those unable to attend in-person.


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