When Rashad Young arrives in Alexandria to begin his job as the new city manager, he plans to listen for nuance as well as broad points of view.
“My first priority is to come in and hear directly from lots of stakeholders . . . assessing and getting to know the community and community priorities,” he said in an interview Saturday, shortly after the City Council announced that it will appoint him. The council plans to vote on and execute his contract Monday.
“The macro issue is how growth is going to be addressed. To understand the nuances is important,” he said.
Young, the city manager in Greensboro, N.C., has had experience with thorny community issues both in North Carolina and in Dayton, Ohio, where he previously worked.
“We’ve had some incredibly divisive issues, to the point of packing council chambers and lawsuits filed on both sides,” Young said. His response, he said, is to “walk with respect and trust.”
The Alexandria that Young walks into is a community with a $566 million budget and several major challenges around every corner. The future of the Alexandria waterfront, the relocation of 6,400 federal workers into the city’s Mark Center and the fate of the GenOn power plant property after its shutdown next year all offer chances for city government to succeed — or fail.
Young said he had been briefed on those issues but needs to learn more. Working in the Washington area has long been a goal for him, and these issues “will shape this community for years to come,” he said.
Young and his wife of nine years, Tameka, drove from Greensboro to Alexandria for a weekend visit and toured the city by car, foot and boat. They have not decided where to live or what schools their two boys, both preschoolers, will attend.
Young said one of his accomplishments in Greensboro was reorganizing city government, which he completed, he said, by “asking, ‘Why is it structured this way? Does that help or hinder our [goals]?’ If you lead with what you’re trying to accomplish, rather than ‘Does this fit the personalities we have?,’ I think you have a better conversation, a better basis for what you’re trying to achieve.”