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Shuler says decision to resign as city manager was difficult

Kip Padgett named interim manager

POSTED: November 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Bryan Shuler said his sudden resignation Thursday as Gainesville’s City Manager was a "difficult personal decision."

Shuler, who had been employed by the city for 11 years, would not say much else.

In a letter to the City Council dated Thursday, Shuler resigned from his post as the city’s chief executive officer to care for his parents, who are in declining health, he said. His resignation was effective immediately.

"In thinking about it, I just wanted to make the change as quickly as I could," Shuler said.

Shuler said the resignation will allow him the flexibility to "deal with situations as they arise" without neglecting his duties with the city.

"Sometimes you have to make career choices that may not appear to everyone to be the most logical but are the most necessary," Shuler said Thursday evening.

Four members of the council accepted Shuler’s resignation Thursday morning in a called council meeting. They immediately named Kip Padgett, the assistant city manager, to replace Shuler on an interim basis. Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Bruner was not able to vote because she was out of town.

Shuler will receive his compensation and benefits for the next six months, according to the letter he submitted to the council.

After Thursday’s meeting, council members expressed shock and regret over the immediate resignation.

Councilman Robert "Bob" Hamrick praised Shuler’s work with the city and said he was surprised to see Shuler go.

"I certainly hate to see him go and wish him the best and his parents the best, but life moves on," Hamrick said.

Councilman George Wangemann said he was stunned when Mayor Myrtle Figueras notified him Wednesday of Shuler’s plans to resign.

"I said ‘What in the world?’... I think we’re all kind of saddened by it, actually," Wangemann said.

Following the council’s vote, Figueras said "we don’t like it, but we’re done."

Figueras told The Times that Shuler came to her home Tuesday and advised her that he was considering resignation.

"He simply said that he needed to go home and take care of his parents and that he planned to resign," Figueras said. "And so what do you say, ‘Darn you?’"

Figueras said she did not ask any questions of Shuler at that point.

"He came and told me that he simply needed to leave, and he needed to leave now. And I said ‘OK, Bryan, we’ll just see what happens with that,’" Figueras said. "...When he looked in my eyes and said he just needed to leave, I said ‘OK, Bryan, then you have that option,’ and at that point I did not ask Bryan any further questions," Figueras said.

Figueras said she knew Shuler’s parents had been ailing for some time, and she would understand if he needed to leave.

The council has not said when the search for Shuler’s permanent replacement will begin. Padgett will take on Shuler’s duties in the interim.

Padgett, formerly the assistant city manager, said he was "shocked and saddened" when he first heard news this morning of his former boss’ resignation.

Padgett immediately moved forward with his duties, letting city department heads know of the changes in a meeting early Thursday afternoon.

"We’ve got a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities, and we’re going to keep pushing ahead to serve the citizens and implement the policies that the City Council sets forth," Padgett said. "The same challenges we had yesterday are the same ones we have today, so we’re going to move forward."

Hamrick and Figueras both expressed confidence in Padgett’s abilities to fill the role in the interim.

"He’s familiar with the issues that are before the city, and I have confidence in Kip and his abilities to do the job," Hamrick said.

Shuler, who said he was en route to South Carolina on Thursday evening, said the council had been supportive of him in his tenure with the city and in his current situation.

"I appreciate their support, and that’s all I’m going to say about that," Shuler said.

Shuler, who spent 11 years with the city, had previous municipal experience as the director of planning in North Augusta, S.C., and New Castle County, Del.

He first came to Gainesville in 1997 as the development services director for Gainesville and Hall County. He was named assistant city manager in May 2001 and city manager in January 2003.



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