12/08/10 — Huffman to leave city post

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Huffman to leave city post

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 8, 2010 1:46 PM

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Joe Huffman announced Tuesday that he will be resigning his post as city manager in early 2011.

A career that began 30 years ago in a western North Carolina prison will come to an end inside Goldsboro's City Hall early next year.

City Manager Joe Huffman is set to retire March 1 -- a decision he made public Tuesday, less than 24 hours after formally notifying members of the City Council of his intentions.

"I've thought about it for the last few years -- when might be the best time," he said. "And right now, the conditions seem to be good. Everything seems to be stable. Every department head is very strong. We have the perfect team."

So now more than ever, Huffman feels confident in the city's ability to move forward without him.

"The time is right," he said.

Huffman began his career in 1981 -- working in a mountain prison before he was, years later, asked to join the city management team in Elkin.

"I didn't really plan to be a city manager," he said. "I was going to go on the justice administration track."

But with his wife's encouragement, he accepted the challenge.

"She said, 'Try it for a couple years. You might even like it,'" Huffman said.

And in the decades since, he has grown to define himself, in many ways, by the lifestyle that comes with a city manager post.

"The thing that really attracted me to city government was the fact that it was something new and exciting every day. The job is demanding. It's intense sometimes. But it's also extremely rewarding," he said. "I think a lot of people are afraid of change. I embrace it. I love it."

Just as he loves working with -- and for -- people.

"If you get down to the thing I will really miss, it will be the employees. So it will be emotional," Huffman said. "I'm very emotionally tied to these employees. When I walk out the door, it won't be so much about the building, it will be about the people. When a police officer gets in a fight, I feel the punches. When a sanitation worker is working outside and it's 20 degrees, I'm thinking about that cold."

So even though a new person will soon take over the post he has held for the last six years -- the next city manager will be appointed by the City Council -- Huffman's heart, he said, will remain with those men and women he has worked alongside since arriving in Goldsboro.

"We've become part of this community. We've got a really strong interest in Goldsboro," he said. "I don't see that changing at all."