Friday, 22 May 2020 11:48

Christian looks to 'grow as a leader' as Hamlet city manager

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HAMLET — Public service has always been important to Matthew Christian.

Growing up in the then-unicorporated Davidson County town of Wallburg — between Winston-Salem and High Point — he saw his father and brother both serve in the military.

“I grew up in a household that was always focused on the community and the greater good,” he said.

Christian, who was just hired as the new city manager for Hamlet, then went off to college at Appalachian State University — where he met Marcus Abernethy, who previously held his future job.

It was the culture of stewardship and public service at App State that led Christian toward his career choice and after a six-month internship with the town of Davidson in 2012, he decided he wanted to go into municipal management.

“I knew this is what I wanted to do after that experience,” he said, adding that the internship provided good insight into the challenges and opportunities of being a town or city manager.

Christian went on to be a town management intern in Weaverville, and a planner in Knightdale before landing the town manager job up the road in Mount Gilead in September of 2016.

Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless said Christian was one of three applicants interviewed.

Christian said he applied for the job to grow as a leader.

“There’s a difference between being a leader and management,” he said, “and it’s a good opportunity to do both.”

Christian also said he was interested in Hamlet’s location, history and the services the city provides that some smaller municipalities don’t.

He has also done his homework regarding some of the challenges he will face coming into the job.

Christian replaces Jonathan Blanton, who recently left to become the first manager for the town of Ranlo in Gaston County.

Blanton, who was hired in January of 2017, served as Hamlet’s manager for the better part of three years.

He announced his resignation in 2019 to take a job at UNC Charlotte as director of business affairs and finance where he was to oversee an $18 million budget, as well as personnel and business operations for the University’s Graduate School.

However, after staying on as interim manager, he was re-hired in June at $90,000 per year.

Christian will be the third new city manager since Marchell Adams-David resigned in 2014 for an assistant city manager post in Raleigh. Abernethy, who now works for the N.C. League of Municipalities, was manager between Adams-David and Blanton. Former Aberdeen manager Bill Zell has been filling in as interim manager since late last month.

He is scheduled to begin work July 6 at $80,000 per year, according to Bayless.

Christian informed his town staff of the new job Thursday and said leaving Mount Gilead after nearly four years is “bittersweet.”

“It was a really tough decision,” he said. “I have a really good group of folks in Mount Gilead … I really value my relationships and my experiences here … I look forward to building more relationships and experiences in Hamlet.”


Last modified on Friday, 22 May 2020 11:57