City manager latest among key New Bern leaders to announce departures

Matt Montanye, left, Patrick Gallagher, and Mark Stephens.

City Manager Mark Stephens announced his resignation this week, the third departure this year among key leaders inside New Bern City Hall.

Coincidentally, Havelock City Manager Frank Bottorff also announced his departure effective mid-May.

In New Bern, Stephens announced his departure in an email to his department heads and staff. It said:

Department Heads and Staff,

I have made a difficult decision to pursue other professional career opportunities and therefore will be resigning as City Manager for the City of New Bern.  I have submitted my resignation to the Board of Aldermen and my last date of employment will be May 14, 2021.  I would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting me here at the City of New Bern over the ten years that I have been employed here.  Three of those as the Director of Public Works and over seven as the City Manager.  The City of New Bern has a great staff and I have tried my best to support and protect them as best I could during my tenure as City Manager.  It has been a pleasure working with you all and with the City during this time.  Furthermore, I wish the City of New Bern continued prosperity, and for allowing me to be a part of the team here in New Bern that has shaped the future of this city for many years to come. I will truly miss my associations and friendships that have been formed here and will cherish the memories that will last in my mind forever.

I could sit here and type out a laundry list of things that have improved since I got here but I’m not going to be like Tom Hanks when he made fire in the movie Castaway and tout “I, I, I have made fire”.  I know that these accomplishments and advancements are vast and these would not have been possible without each one of you supporting the mission of the organization.  Therefore, I will leave it to each of you to look around and see the transformations because each of us value different things as individuals.  My favorite, Martin Marietta Park, has yet to fully come to realization, however I can’t wait to see this come to fruition and will continue to follow it post my employment here because I feel this type of project can be a game changer in a community.

I wish you all well in the future and offer to each of you the ability to contact me at any time if I can be of further assistance in helping with a smooth transition.

The departure of Stephens in New Bern leaves the city with newly filled or vacant seats in three key city positions: City manager, public works director, and police chief.

Matt Montanye had been public works director since 2014 and had been with the city since 2008. He left New Bern to become public works director in Bryan County, Ga., just south of Savannah.

Toussaint Summers Jr. had been New Bern Police chief for 10 years before retiring on March 19; he delayed his retirement until the city could hire his replacement. Patrick Gallagher, former deputy chief in Virgina Beach, Va., became New Bern police chief on March 22.

This is the biggest turnover of key city leaders since 2010, when the city lost its city manager, city planner, public works director, police chief, and perhaps others, all around the same time period. In addition, an entirely new Board of Aldermen was elected with one exception: Alderman Dana Outlaw was the only holdover from the previous board.

Outlaw, now mayor of New Bern, did not respond to a request for comments about the current situation in city management.

Frank Bottorff

Meanwhile, in Havelock, City Manager Frank Bottorff announced his retirement effective mid-May. No further information was immediately available about Bottorff’s departure.

Bottorff, a retired Marine colonel who had been commanding officer at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, has been Havelock city manager since since late 2013.