New City Manager Butch Sanders Brings Expertise, Vision
Sanders looks forward to bringing his years of experience to Snellville and becoming a part of the community.
New City Manager James “Butch” Sanders was born and raised in South Florida, but has lived and worked in Georgia since attending the University of Georgia.
After earning a degree in economics and political science, the city of McDonough hired him as their very first city manager. (He earned a graduate degree in Public Administration soon after.)
“It was very fortunate for me to start out in a position like that,” said Sanders. “I did everything from load the Coke machine to run the water plant.”
He hit the ground running and learned a lot during his nearly six years in Henry County. When the opportunity came up to accept a position as the Chief Administrative Officer for Dalton, Ga., he and his family decided it was the right place at the right time.
“I really enjoyed the community,” said Sanders, “and we made our home there.”
His son Chett, born in ’87, was born in McDonough, while his daughter, Caroline, 21, was born in Dalton.
He served in Dalton for twenty years and accomplished some major things things like working with the Department of Recreation to create a 200-acre regional park and managing a major downtown redevelopment project. He also created a joint city and council economic development authority and directed a City Capital Improvement Program of over $30 million, which included arranging all public financing and project management for the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center, a new City Hall, Police Services Center, three fire stations and a Public Works office.
Most recently, Sanders served as the County Manager for Henry County, but felt like it was time to get back into city government. When he saw that Snellville was looking for a city manager, he “felt real good about the future here and the opportunities.”
He fell in love with the community and feels it is a good fit for all parties.
Moving Snellville Forward
Right now, the top priorities in Snellville are consolidating the LCI issues, moving toward solidifying the budget and completing construction to add to the town center, according to Sanders.
“We need to try to be aggressive in generating new tax dollars,” he said.
He believes we should concentrate on redevelopment and possible annexation of the north end of Highway 124.
“My philosophy of annexation is that if it’s not of benefit to all parties, don’t consider it,” he added. “But we feel like we can bring a lot of value and assist properties and owners who are not in the city now.”
Nothing is in the works just yet, but a staff annexation committee will be looking at maps, the numbers and laying out the benefits of coming into the city.
Having been here a little under a month, Sanders said he is still in the learning stage and that there is a lot of gathering of information that needs to be done. He looks forward to working with the city council and mayor in order to establish a strong sense of direction.
“A city manager and department heads are like electricians,” he said. “We get direction from elected officials, how they want things wired up, and we wire it.”
Our greatest strength as a city is the quality of life, recreational opportunities, a terrific healthcare system and a lot of commercial choices for people who live here, according to Sanders. The city’s staff and law enforcement are a major asset as well.
“In law enforcement, one thing I try to achieve is a balance between strict, smart enforcement of the law and a strong community relationship,” he said. “This department hits that balance almost perfectly.”
Police Chief Roy Whitehead will continue to serve as assistant city manager, making the relationship between city and law enforcement even better.
In his spare time, Sanders is an outdoors enthusiast, and loves spending time with his family outdoors. He is an avid golfer who “used to be pretty good,” plays tennis and began cycling when his son joined the cycling team at Georgia Tech. He is also a backpacker and hiker and has hiked most of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and North Carolina.