By Carol McCracken (Post # 663)
More than 40 years ago, Joe Gray began his career with the city of Portland in the State of Maine room at the city hall. Earlier this afternoon he was back in the State of Maine room before a SRO crowd to announce his resignation from his position as city manager – a position he’s held for the last decade.
Gray started working for the city as a planner for the Model Cities program. “At the time, I expected to stay for a few years, build a resume, and move on to the bright lights of a larger community. Little did I expect that day so many years ago, that one day I would become the City Manager and for my family and me, Portland would become our bright lights,” Gray said in his opening remarks.
Gray listed among his proudest achievments as a former city planning director and city manager, the Shoreway Access Plan, his role in the construction of the Ocean Gateway Terminal, the megaberth and the jetport expansion, the increase in the cruise ship business and the “multifaceted community effort undertaken to refocus our downtown into a growing, vibrant arts and cultural hub.” He also cited the difficulty in developing a responsible budget during a recession, during which it provided an “appropriate safety net for the less fortunate in our community.” Gray received several standing ovations during the press conference.
In a lighter moment, Gray said he would not miss early morning decisions on whether or not to call a snow ban. That brought lots of laughter from the crowd assembled there.
Mayor Nick Mavodones said: “While some City Managers can be introverted and others seek the limelight, Joe has always struck the right balance. He has represented the city with professisonalism and sophistication and has always, kept the focus on how to best serve the city. Many would say it was fortuitous to have a City Manager with a strong planning background take the helm during this period of time and I would agree. I wish you the absolute best and know that the city is a better community because of your hard work.”
The Mayor also said following the press conference that on Thursday, he’ll be announcing an Interim City Manager as well as how the process of replacing Gray will happen. There will be a national search for his replacement according to the Mayor.
Michael J. B obinsky, Director of Public Services, said following the press conference: “We will miss him. He’s been a great city manager for Portland. His leadership and understanding of key neighborhoods and neighborhood associations has really provided staff and council with great advice over the years he has managed the city. It’s been an honor to work with him.”
Gray and his wife plan on staying in Portland for their retirement. According to his son, Nate, present at the press conference, Gray and his wife will be heading south for vacation time following some baby sitting time for his grandson in late February.
None of the three Green councilors attended the press conference, although other city council members, and city staff were present.