It didn’t take long for Cary’s new town manager to put everyone around him at ease.
Sean R. Stegall, 43, the former manager of the City of Elgin in Illinois, was sworn in Thursday, Aug. 4, and his first day on the job started off in a whirlwind of activity. He was sworn in before 8 a.m., met with staff members and had work photos taken before his first meeting at 9 a.m.
As Stegall posed for pictures outside of Town Hall, he seemed confident yet playful, taking everything in stride when he was asked to take off his tie and later spin around in a circle during the photoshoot. He joked about everything – from being a model to his new car – amid a barrage of directions to break the ice with his new coworkers and make the early morning duty more fun.
“I can do a cartwheel. Do you want me to do a cartwheel?” Stegall asked the photographer.
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Cary Town Council members and staff believe he will bring that youthful energy and drive to his new position as the town’s manager.
“There’s a lot of great hope and anticipation of the things he can do to take a town that I view as one of the greatest places in the nation and making it greater,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said.
Stegall was one of the youngest city managers in the country when he was hired by Elgin in 2009. He served in that role for seven years before being selected from more than 80 applicants to be Cary’s new manager. His salary will be $210,000.
He replaces former Cary manager Ben Shiver, who retired Sept. 30 after 19 years with the town. Deputy Town Manager Mike Bajorek has been serving as town manager in the interim.
His first order of business will be to meet residents as well as more of the town’s 1,250 staff members.
“I have a full calendar the next couple days, and I think the goal for today is to meet and talk to staff and help to identify what are some key issues, not only now, but in the intermediate term and the long term,” he said. “The feeling is one of certainly excitement but also great responsibility.”
Stegall, originally from Galesburg, Ill., previously worked as assistant city manager in Batavia, N.Y., before joining the Elgin staff in 2000. He was Elgin’s assistant manager for nearly nine years.
Elgin, the eighth largest municipality in Illinois, is about 35 miles northwest of Chicago and has about 111,000 residents, or about 70 percent of Cary’s population. It has a median household income of $59,832.
During his tenure, Stegall helped guide the city through the recession by reshaping the organization with fewer people and an emphasis on technology. In particular, he created the town’s 311 program, a centralized contact center designed to more efficiently respond to requests and inquiries from residents, visitors and businesses.
Stegall 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. 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.
“We’re very excited to bring Sean on board,” councilman Don Frantz said. “He’s got a great record and successes from Elgin. We think a fresh set of eyes and maybe some new ideas might be very helpful in Cary as we move into the future.”
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.
Stegall is in the middle of relocating to the Triangle with his wife, Michele, and 10-year-old daughter, Emma. They will soon move into a home near Bond Park that they’re renting before selecting their permanent home.
“Cary represents to me in every way the finest local government in the country, from the provision of services to an active and involved citizenry, a talented town staff and a town council, most importantly, that is committed to governance,” he said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon