After 24 Years, City Manager James Spore to Retire Jan. 1

One of the Longest-Serving City Managers in the Nation

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

James K. Spore arrived in Virginia Beach in November 1991, a young city manager from the small Dallas suburb of Garland. Today, he is one of the longest-serving and most successful city managers in the nation. 

On Jan. 1, Spore will retire, after 24 years in office. Mayor Williams D. Sessoms, Jr. announced Spore’s retirement today at the start of the City Council meeting. “Jim I can’t say enough about the great job you’ve done for this city,” Sessoms said. He noted Spore’s unusually long tenure – “kind of miraculous in your line of work” – and called Spore “the superstar of superstars.”


“From the bottom of my heart, Jim, thank you for the super job you’ve done,” Sessoms concluded. “There’s no question in my mind that you love this city.” The City Council gave him a standing ovation.


In a two-page letter to the City Council, Spore said the decision to retire was difficult because it meant leaving a job he loves. “The opportunity to devote one’s talents and energy to assist a community in improving the quality of life for all citizens is unsurpassed by any other profession,” he wrote.


In his letter, Spore noted 14 special achievements that occurred during his tenure in office, including completion of the Lake Gaston water pipeline, Town Center, redevelopment of the resort area, expansion of the Virginia Aquarium and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the decision to extend light rail to Town Center, the city’s AAA bond ratings and the creation of a system of first-class libraries, recreation centers and parks.


In 2010, Spore was recognized as the top city manager in the nation, winning a prestigious career award from the International City/County Management Association. Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the start of his career in government as an unpaid intern. Since Spore became city manager, Virginia Beach has been recognized as one of the best places to live and one of the best-managed cities in the nation.


The City Council will conduct a national search for Spore’s successor.


“I am confident the momentum we have established will continue to move Virginia Beach forward to an even more successful future,” Spore wrote.


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