Every Monday, The Times takes a look at someone who keeps local government running smoothly.
For the first time since he took over the helm of Gainesville government, City Manager Kip Padgett took a much-needed day off Friday.
The Cochran native was tossed into the city’s lead position in mid-November after the former city manager resigned without notice.
Padgett has been busy ever since, battling budget issues and hiccups in the Midtown redevelopment plan, not to mention trying to get settled in his new office.
While his title is a new one, Padgett, 39, says it has always been his goal to work in local government.
“I’ve kind of always had an interest in government, especially in local government,” Padgett said. “You live in your community, so what better way to give back to your community than working for them?”
The desire to work in civil service was bred into Padgett — that, and a love for Georgia football — by a mother and father who both worked for the federal government.
After going to nearly every one of Georgia’s home football games since he was 2, Padgett graduated from the University of Georgia in 1993 with a degree in business administration.
He later earned a masters of science and administration from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
His first job out of college was in the Gainesville district office of the state Department of Transportation purchasing right of way.
Two years later, Padgett was able to pursue his passions for Georgia football and working for local government.
His first position on the local level working for the Athens-Clarke County Planning department made it easy to attend UGA football games.
And professionally, Padgett worked his way up Athens’ government to an administrative position doing long-range planning for the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“Planning is one of the greatest ways (to serve your community),” Padgett said. “You can work with the city and its residents to lay out how they want their community in the future.”
He later left the post, sending five years as a consultant in the private sector. But, “my heart was always in local government,” he said.
When the director’s position in Gainesville’s Planning Department opened up, Padgett took his opportunity. He became assistant city manager in 2007 and officially became city manager in January.
“And here I am.”
But in between there and here, Padgett said he gained another passion. When his son, Cole, was born with cerebral palsy and seizure disorders seven years ago, Padgett said he had to take a break from Georgia football games to tend to his son’s special needs.
The experience opened Padgett’s eyes to a whole new way to serve his community, he said, and he is now a member of the board of directors for Challenged Child and Friends.
“Because of Cole’s special needs, it’s something that’s dear to my heart,” he said.
As Gainesville’s City Manager, Padgett said he will focus on the Midtown redevelopment and protecting Gainesville’s largest natural resource, Lake Lanier. But for Friday, his first day off in a while, Padgett wanted to focus on his kids, Cole, 7, and Emma, 10.