Miami City Manager Michael Spurgeon turned in his resignation Wednesday, ending nearly a decade of employment with the city.
Spurgeon said his motivation to leave his post is driven by the same incentive that brought him to Miami - family.
“Family is important to me,” Spurgeon said. “When we made the decision to come to Miami, my parents were living here and one of my brothers was an elementary school principal here.”
Now, Spurgeon's two brothers live just a mile apart from each other in a suburb of St. Louis, Mo., Spurgeon has accepted a job as the director of administration is St. Charles, Mo., less than 30 minutes away from his brothers.
Spurgeon's last day in Miami will be Dec. 30.
Tuesday, St. Charles City Council members approved Mayor Patricia York's recommendation to hire Spurgeon. He will answer directly to York who leads the municipality in its “strong mayor” form of government.
Spurgeon joined the staff in February of 1998 as city administrator and later was appointed as the public utility manager. One year later, he became the city manager as the municipality transitioned for the first time into a city manager form of government.
Spurgeon said Wednesday that he departs Miami at a time when it is poised for growth.
His successor will find the city's biggest challenge to be street improvement, according to Spurgeon. Street projects were placed on the back burner when Miami experienced record flooding in July.
“Challenge also lies in Miami's diversity,” Spurgeon said. “I hope that I have been able to help in creating a more positive environment.”
After Spurgeon broke the news of his leaving to city officials, administration and staff members, they began to put their thoughts together regarding his departure.
Here is what they said:
Mayor Brent Brassfield: “People did not always agree with Mike's decisions. But, in the the three years and nine months that I have served as mayor, he did not make any decisions that he did not feel was in the best interest of the city. He has a tremendous work ethic. He is extremely talented. He has tremendous integrity and will continue to have success, regardless of what he pursues the rest of his life.
I have met very few people in my life that I would want in a fox hole with me, but he is one of them.
This city will continue to move forward. But, in my opinion, we just lost the best city manager in the state of Oklahoma.
I wish he and his family heath and happiness.
Economic Development Director Brian Barger: I think that this is not a great day for Miami. There is going to be a large void in leadership to fill in Michael's absence.
“Throughout my professional career, I have known great leadership, but Michael is the best and brightest boss I have known, by far.
“I am not just losing a boss - I am losing a good friend.”
Jill Fitzgibbon, assistant to the city manager: “He has made a tremendous positive impact on our community. It never failed to impress me that, as an employee, we were continuously encouraged to provide the best possible services to the public. He will be greatly missed by staff and citizens alike.”
Judy Francisco, assistant to the city manager: “The fact that Michael spent nearly 10 years as our city manager, when the national average is approximately two to three years, speaks to his commitment to our community. He willingly made personal sacrifices because he considered Miami to be his home. His fingerprints are on projects throughout our community.”
Spurgeon, who raised his children in Miami, spent the last several years as the voice of Miami Wardog football and often spoke of “bleeding Wardog blue,” despite his Missouri roots. He led his Pee Wee football team to the “super bowl” championship and fostered many friendships through his involvement in adult-league sporting opportunities.
On Wednesday, he choked back emotions as he contemplated the final farewell to a city staff and leadership that he believes fall second to none.
Spurgeon said walking away from good friendships is by far the hardest part of leaving any place that a person has ever called “home.”
“I have been blessed in having had the opportunity to serve the Miami community,” Spurgeon said. “Miami has much to be proud of and I am proud to have served here.”