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City Manager? Ray reneges on Signal Mountain contract to pursue Manchester

Whether or not the City of Manchester will push forward with a plan to hire a city manager for the first time since 2002 is yet to be seen.

But, apparently, at least one person wants that job.

Josh Ray, the former city manager in Shelbyville (among other places), has expressed interest in the position, according to an email Ray sent to Manchester Mayor Marilyn Howard on May 5.

However, the city hasn’t actually posted that it is hiring for such a position, though talk has been underway for several years now and has recently gained more traction.

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Ray was fired from his post as city manager in Shelbyville in March of this year after a little more than a year on the job. According to the Shelbyville Times Gazette, the only reason given was: “Shelbyville City Council decided it was necessary to make a change in management style in the position of City Manager.” 

Ray then went on to accept the job as city manager in Signal Mountain, Tennessee in April of this year. According to The Chattanoogan, Ray signed a contract with the city on April 29. But officials in Signal Mountain learned that on May 5, 2022, six days after signing his contract, Ray wrote an email to Manchester Mayor Marilyn Howard inquiring about becoming city manager in Manchester. This email came despite already accepting the Signal Mountain job. Ray was supposed to report for work June 1 in Signal Mountain. When confronted by Signal Mountain city officials about reaching out to Manchester while under contract, Ray reportedly decided to terminate his contract with Signal Mountain, according to The Chattanoogan.

Thunder Radio obtained a copy of the email that Ray sent to Mayor Marilyn Howard on May 5 through an open records request. In it, the email (titled City Manager Letter of Interest) includes an attached cover letter and resume for a city manager position, dated for May. Ray also states his willingness to work on a short-term contract until the board could update its policies and procedures. (MTAS is scheduled to meet with Manchester board members Tuesday, May 31 regarding the position).

Howard told Thunder Radio News that she had not solicited Ray to inquire about the position. She added that she was unsure if the board would decide to move forward with posting the position and/or hiring someone now, considering there will be at least two new board members after the August election.

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Prior to being fired in Shelbyville, Ray served as City Manager in four different cities in North Carolina, New Mexico, and Texas over a period of about 17 years, according to the Shelbyville Times Gazette. He was fired as city manager in Whiteville, N.C. in 2009 after what councilmen there said were issues with the speed of projects and poor handling of sewer and drainage issues, according to WECT news.

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