Ashley Stathatos says she was drawn from Texas to High Springs because of its downtown area, and because she believes its city leaders already have great ideas in place for moving forward.
“There’s so much that’s already been done right,” said Stathatos, 47, who has more than 20 years of local government experience in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The High Springs City Commission recently hired Stathatos to replace Joel DeCoursey Jr. as city manager. She assumed the position on a one-year contract that began Nov. 30 and will pay her $100,000. DeCoursey had resigned to accept a job with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
Stathatos’ first commission meeting as city manager will be a special workshop set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss High Springs’ wastewater and water systems as well as future development. Her first regular commission meeting is scheduled for the same time Thursday.
Commissioner Linda Jones said Stathatos was picked from among 27 applicants because of her experience with zoning issues, water and sewer systems, grant writing and managing finances and revenue. Noting that the city is developing a comprehensive plan, Jones also cited Stathatos’ history with economic development matters as well as her people skills.
“She’s very personable, you know,” Jones said. “You just feel comfortable with her.”
As city manager, Stathatos is responsible for a total of 87 employees working in 12 municipal departments, according to Kevin Mangan, the city’s public information officer.
Stathatos was city manager in three small municipalities – Haslet (2018 population of 1,855), Justin (3,992) and Oak Point (4,974) – before joining Anna, Texas, as neighborhood services manager in February 2019. Anna is a city of 14,000; High Springs has a population of 6,137.
Among the biggest challenges Stathatos said she faced was keeping economic development from overwhelming the unique character of a particular place and maintaining its quality of life. In Anna alone, she said, she helped to save it $600,000 by streamlining its building processes.
“When you work for growing cities, you always face the challenge of, ‘We’re going too fast,’” Stathatos said. “You know you’re always trying to balance the quality growth with how fast growth is coming.”
Saying she understands the value of keeping her new city special and unique, Stathatos said she will keep first and foremost that “people are wanting to move to High Springs for a reason.”
To that end, Stathatos said she wants to develop more multi-purpose trails connecting different parts of the community, including those at schools and parks.
A short-term goal: Determining catalyst projects in a place with lots of potential.
“I’m here to serve the community,” she said.