Cary Town Council members believe the new town manager’s big-picture ideas, communication skills and wealth of experience in municipal government will take Cary to the next level.
The Town Council unanimously appointed Sean Stegall, 43, on Thursday, May 26, after nine months of searching. He replaces longtime Town Manager Ben Shivar, who retired Sept. 30.
“It’s more than finally hiring a town manager. It’s finding the right fit,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said. “We had a lot of excellent applicants and to find someone finally that we can all get 100 percent behind and we’re all excited about, that’s what makes me happy. It’s a great relief to be able to find somebody that good.”
Stegall has been the manager of the City of Elgin – the eighth largest municipality in Illinois – since 2009. The city, which is about 35 miles northwest of Chicago, has about 111,000 residents, or about 70 percent of the size of Cary. It has a median household income of $59,832.
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Stegall said Friday that he was drawn to the town because of Cary’s success in creating a better community while maintaining its small-town feel.
He said he would bring additional energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to public service to the role of town manager, as well as a passion for working with people and the community.
The announcement comes five months after the second round of the search process began. The town received 83 applications through both rounds of the search.
“I love that he is somebody who is a big-picture thinker and clearly contemplates best practices for a city and how to manage people well,” councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said.
His first day will be Aug. 4. His salary will be $210,000.
“I hope he would be able to lead our organization in such a way that we continue to strive for greater and greater achievements and excellence,” Robinson said. “There is a concern among the council that we might rest on our laurels and experience somewhat of a plateau, and we really have confidence that Sean will be able to come up with new and innovative ways to serve our citizens well.”
Stegall, originally from Illinois, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Western Illinois University and earned his master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University, according to a news release. He also is a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia, and the University of Colorado’s Center for Improvement of Public Management, Rocky Mountain Program.
Before becoming city manager in Elgin, he was the city’s assistant town manager for nearly nine years.
Weinbrecht said Stegall stood out to the council during his second interview.
“He really shined,” Weinbrecht said. “You could really see his people skills and how warm he is as a person, and I think that resonated with me how he would fit so well with Cary’s staff.”
Following Shivar’s retirement announcement, the Town Council selected Waters and Company Executive Recruitment in August to conduct the national search.
After four months, the council decided in December to restart the process after not coming to a unanimous decision on the three finalists. Forty-two people applied in that first round.
Waters and Company returned to the council in February with another 41 applications. The search is expected to cost the town $23,500.
Weinbrecht praised Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek Thursday night, who has been serving as the interim town manager, and thanked him for his work, particularly in preparing the upcoming budget.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon