Champaign City Manager to Retire
By Sean Powers
Champaign City Manager Steve Carter says it is the right time for him to retire after nearly 28 years in his post.
Carter announced his decision at Tuesday night’s Champaign City Council meeting, after meeting with the council in closed session. He said the timing is right, because city affairs are relatively quiet right now.
Carter said one of his greatest challenges was not that long ago, when the city was forced to cut staff due to budget cuts made necessary by the recession. He said that was done with the help of a voluntary separation program for city employees.
"That was very successful and ended up reducing our work force about ten percent, which is sad to see people move who’ve contributed so much, and realize with fewer employees we just can’t do as much as we’ve done before," Carter said. "But I think we came through it pretty well, and now we’re at the point where we’re actually filling vacancies."
Carter said he is grateful for the city council's support that has allowed him to serve so long as Champaign City Manager. He said a typical city manager’s tenure is just six or seven years.
City Council member Michael LaDue, who came to local city government with Carter, says it could be tough to find someone as personable, who shows the same level of humanity.
Michael LaDue and Carter have both been involved for 27-plus years.
LaDue says the job of city manager means striking a balance between different constituencies and interests, and those are among the qualities to seek out in his replacement.
"Some management personalities tend to be a little bit rigid, a little but formalistic," he said. He (Carter) was not that way. We would prefer to have that. We are, after all, not a city of millions. We still look to retain the flavor of a smaller community, where people treat each other like people, and not like their expectations of who people should be, and what they might not be."
LaDue refers to Carter as a ‘last boy scout’ who made an effort to help the council to fulfill its goals, having a very good exchange with council members. He says the biggest challenge in Carter’s time may well have been the sense of loss, and trying to be fair to all parties in the wake of the 2009 police shooting of teenager Kiwane Carrington.
Carter said he plans to stay fully engaged in his job during his final months, but will be working on a smooth transition to his successor. His last day with the city is March 29, 2013.