New city manager to start in April

Doraville has hired a new city manager after residents voted in favor of changing the city’s form of government last year.

Shawn Gillen begins April 17 as Doraville’s first city manager in more than 20 years.

In 1981, Doraville changed from a city manager to a full-time mayor form of government by way of a referendum. Now, like many other municipalities in DeKalb County, it has changed back.

Mayor Donna Pittman said that Gillen will bring a wealth of experience to the city. Although the change means Pittman will have less power, it will be important for her to maintain a close relationship with residents. She said it is important for residents to continue to have the opportunity to speak openly with their mayor.

Previously, Gillen served as the mayor of Monmouth, Ill., a town in western Illinois with a population of approximately 9,200 people—Doraville has an estimated population of 8,429.

“That combined with his experience as city administrator and academic background will aid in our transition and position us for the future,” Pittman said.

At the end of Gillen’s three-year mayoral term, Monmouth transitioned from a having a mayoral form of government and hired a city manager. Gillen then served as a council administrator in Lexington, Ky., and currently serves as city administrator of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Gillen said his role as city manager is to take the mayor and city council’s vision for Doraville and turn it into reality by creating strategic plans and public policies.

Doraville’s government will officially transition July 1, but Gillen said he will begin to prepare for that transition in April by taking over some of the day-to-day operations of the city.

“The city manager’s role is basically like that of the CEO of an organization,” Gillen said. “We’ll start by looking at what the goals and objectives of the city council and mayor are and look at what strategic planning is already in place.”

While being interviewed for the city manager position, Gillen said, he met with Pittman and each council member individually and as a group. He also took a tour of the city.

Although Gillen doesn’t begin his official duties until April, he said he will be taking several trips to Doraville to look for housing and get to know the more of city’s administrative staff.

“Our focus early on is identifying their vision and creating performance measurements for that and making sure the things that we do day-to-day are moving in that direction,” Gillen said.

Gillen holds a master’s of public administration and a Ph.D. in public finance from the University of Kentucky. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa. Gillen and his wife Katie have three daughters.

Pittman said she welcomes the transition to part-time mayor.

“I’ve enjoyed my time as mayor and city administrator, but the dual role is taxing. I’m looking forward to a new era and I couldn’t be more excited about our selection,” Pittman said.

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