Fernandina’s New City Manager: Ty Ross

Ty Ross

By Mike Lednovich

It took the Fernandina Beach City Commission just over two hours to name Ty Ross, current city manager of Loudon, Tennessee as the new city manager of the city. The decision comes seven months after the commission terminated city manager Dale Martin.

The 5-0 vote came after commissioners held private one-on-one interviews and then public interviews at a special meeting with the four finalists for the job.

“The guy who really stood out for me was Mr. Ross,” said Mayor Bradley Bean. “He speaks so well and I feel he has a good grasp of what makes our city great.”

Ross was also the top pick of Vice Mayor David Sturges and commissioners Darron Ayscue and Chip Ross. Commissioner James Antun had Lee Smith number one with Ross second.

“It’s not that difficult for me as well, Ty Ross is my top choice,” Sturges said. “I think he will do very well in our city environment. He will be fair and honest with our citizens.”

The next step is for the city administration to negotiate an employment contract with Ross for the job. That contract will require approval by the city commission.

“I am humbled and honored by this appointment,” Ross told the Observer. “I feel I can use my many attributes to meet the challenges facing Fernandina Beach. I think we’re going to have a nice run together.”

Ross, 49, said there will be lot of moving parts in making the transition from Loudon to Fernandina Beach.

“Frankly, this is so fresh I can’t begin to determine a timeline for making the move to Fernandina Beach,” Ross said. The timeline must be a fit for both parties.”

Ross said his wife Jennifer’s reaction to hearing the news was “she is my biggest fan and she expected as much from me.”

Ross was third in the pecking order of addressing the commission and answering questions.

“I’ve been in this business for 15 years and there’s not a lot I haven’t seen in terms of challenges here. They’re shared by a lot of communities. They’re certainly not insurmountable,” Ross said in his opening statement. “I’m not intimidated or hesitant to take on any of the challenges you have. I look forward to it. I hope to be here a long, long time.”

Ross has been the city manager for Loudon, Tennessee (population 6,733) since 2017. The riverfront city has a $90 million budget and 150 employees. Previously, he served as the city administrator for Dalton, Georgia (population 33,644) for seven years.

Executive search firm Colin Baenziger & Associates said in its report, “Ross’ management style is humanistic and focuses on employees’ needs. His three main tenets are to protect others, protect yourself, and serve.”

He is proud of his leading role in securing over a dozen acres of formerly dilapidated factories on Loudon’s downtown waterfront. The solution he designed and implemented with staff cleared all environmental hurdles and enabled the demolition and clearing of the property, which opened clear lake views.

What is more, he was able to rebrand a factory’s former water tower into a dramatic welcome sign that announces to all visitors that they have arrived at a special place. The project remains exceedingly successful and, though somewhat stalled by COVID-19, is well positioned for both residential and mixed-use commercial development in the coming months.

Ross has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Georgia, a juris doctorate from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Kennesaw State University.

When asked by Commissioner Ross why the city should hire him, Ty Ross said, “I’m the right person at the right time to help lead this community to the future. This would be my third city manager (job) and the third time’s a charm because you’ll benefit from all my experience. I bring with me work in similar sized communities with similar sized budgets.”

Ross said his experience also includes managing an electric department and a natural gas department.

He said he had studied the city budget and capital improvement plan, all of which Ross said he has managed in the past.

“Lastly, when my wife saw the Fernandina Beach job posting, she told me go get it,” Ross quipped, drawing chuckles from those in the commission meeting room.

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Noble Member
[email protected](@angeldoccie2003yahoo-com)
14 days ago

Let us see how he interacts with our City and the Citizens

Douglas M
Noble Member
Douglas M(@douglasm)
14 days ago

Congratulations to Ty! It is gratifying to see he was #1 on 4 lists and #2 on another. That is a good start for working with the FBCC.

Alan Hopkins
Noble Member
Alan Hopkins(@dawaves)
13 days ago

Good luck to Ty Ross. You will need it.

FBCC is interesting to say the least.

Jason Collins
Trusted Member
Jason Collins(@jc18holes)
13 days ago

Hey anytime you can get all 5 Commissioners to agree on something this important it’s a win for the City. Best of luck Mr. Ty Ross!

Steve Vogel
Steve Vogel(@stevedec)
10 days ago

Mr Ross, good luck working with a micro-managing, egotistical, non-communicative City Commission. They summarily fired your very competent predecessor with little explanation or cause.

Noble Member
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve Vogel

What an ugly way to welcome a new City Manager.

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