For Bryan Lackey, it helps to have ties to a place he will soon call both home and office.
“I just knew that if the right situation presented itself ... that I wanted to try to take advantage of it,” he said.
Lackey, 43, will take over as the new city manager of Gainesville later this month.
It’s a natural fit given that his parents and grandparents grew up here, but also the next logical step in a career devoted to public service.
Lackey is currently the director of planning and development in Gwinnett County. He is a professional engineer and graduated from the University of Georgia.
Lackey also earned a master’s degree in public administration in 2005 from then North Georgia College and State University. He grew up in Barrow County, and his wife and two sons live in the Dacula area.
City Council selected Lackey from 76 applications for the job, with Mayor Danny Dunagan making a point to acknowledge that Lackey is a family man.
Perhaps the best example of this is Lackey’s love for traveling with his family to the far-flung reaches of America.
“We made a commitment years ago that we want to take our boys traveling across the country,” he said, adding that a recent trip to South Dakota was a highlight.
But it was Lackey’s job experience that really shined, according to officials.
For starters, Lackey has managed big dollars and large projects having presided over a nearly $10 million budget in Gwinnett.
Of course, he said he understands that the similarities only go so far, even the future is bright for new growth and development across Hall.
“I think Gainesville has a lot of the same types of issues that you see in Gwinnett, it’s just maybe on a different scale,” Lackey said.
One of his biggest selling points appears to have been his involvement in developing a stormwater utility in Gwinnett.
Gainesville is looking to implement its own similar utility to pay for upgrades to aging pipes and infrastructure.
Lackey said rising regulatory costs from the state and federal governments, coupled with environmental and economic concerns, are driving the creation of this utility. And it will be his job to persuade residents that it’s in their best interest to pay up.
“I think I can bring to the table the ability to educate people on why it’s important,” Lackey said, which includes developing credits so that ratepayers can take active conservation steps to reduce their expense.
Transparency and accessibility is a philosophy Lackey said he brings to his work.
Whether keeping his door open to employees to better morale, which in turn betters the services to residents, or listening to resident complaints, it’s all in a day’s work.
“Coming from a small town gives me a benefit,” he said. “I come from a town and environment where you reached out to people.”
These days, the city manager’s role is as much about crunching the numbers as it is about shaking hands.
“If I’m the captain of the ship, I’m certainly not rowing the ship,” Lackey said. “It takes a whole team to make us successful.”