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Ray settles in as city manager

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com
Posted 1/28/21

Shelbyville's newly hired city manager, Joshua Ray, is settling in quite well. Right off the bat, he said he plans to eat breakfast at Pope's Cafe on the public square every Wednesday around 7:15 a.m. "If anyone wants to come join me. . . stop by to ask questions, I hope they will drop in. ...

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Ray settles in as city manager

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Shelbyville's newly hired city manager, Joshua Ray, is settling in quite well. Right off the bat, he said he plans to eat breakfast at Pope's Cafe on the public square every Wednesday around 7:15 a.m.

"If anyone wants to come join me . . . stop by to ask questions, I hope they will drop in. This allows people to get questions answered without having to come to the formal setting of City Hall," Ray said. "I will remain active throughout the community and will do my best to be available to anyone that needs me. My cell phone will be placed on my business cards and on the city website for ease of access."

Moving to Shelbyville with Ray are his wife, Savanah, and their daughters Kaydence, a high school junior, Kambree, a freshman and Kenzlee, a second grader.

"Shelbyville has a strong history and is an incredibly beautiful community. We love Tennessee; we love being outdoors and my girls, once they saw the area, were destined to move here," Ray said.

When he surveyed the city, Ray said it was Shelbyville's culture and the area's strong sense of community which inspired him to move his family here. Lago Vista, Texas, their former home, is about 20 miles from Austin, Texas.

Ray served, since 2017, as Lago Vista's city manager and previously 7 years as Aztec, N.M. city manager. In Lago Vista, a city of approximately 7,500, he managed the day-to-day activities, including 14 department heads, 105 full-time employees, 25-35 seasonal and part-time employees. There was also the city's $38 million annual budget and $74 million worth of capital projects.

While he told the Times-Gazette that it is way too early to determine his top three goals for 2021, Ray said, speaking as a professional manager, his first goal is always economic and fiscal responsibility and stability. "Once we ensure that our finances are as they should be, then we can focus on the efficient and effective delivery of services. The growth in Shelbyville is something that we will need to continue to focus on and provide resources to. In addition, with growth, we must ensure that we are able to continue to provide the highest level of services. These services include roads, parks and recreation, police and fire and so much more."

He said his third area of focus in local government is community awareness and success. Ray believes it is important to keep the community informed about what the city council is doing - their vision for the future.

"Buy-in and support from the community is vital to any community's success," Ray said.

Ray brings to the table governmental experience and a firm educational background. He holds a master's of public affairs degree from Western Carolina University, where he graduated at the top of his class in 2003, with a 4.0 GPA. As well, he has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of North Carolina.

Ray said, for him, the two main factors that convinced him to accept the city's job offer were strong council members and the administrative team already in place at City Hall. "The former administration did an excellent job assembling a very talented, professional team to carry out the day-to-day responsibilities of the city. The council is packed full of people that have lived and worked in Shelbyville and that are passionate about how they want to see their Shelbyville grow."

As Shelbyville's city manager, Ray said he will continue to believe in open and transparent government. He's not a man to hide things from the public, he said.

"When we present information to the city council for consideration, we share that with anyone interested. When we work to prepare the annual budget, we will share every step of that process with anyone that cares. I want to see a strong working relationship with all of our local media to help us get the word out about what is going on in our community."

Ray said if the school system needs help, the city will be available. He said the same goes for other organizations such as the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce.

"Community means partnerships and that is the foundation to success," Ray said. "If we are all working towards the same general goals, we will be successful."

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