Mills appointed next Cookeville City Manager

City Manager Designee James Mills and retiring City Manager Mike Davidson

COOKEVILLE – The Cookeville City Council Thursday night accepted Mike Davidson’s letter of resignation and authorized the Mayor (Ricky Shelton) to appoint Planning Director James Mills as City Manager Designee until Davidson’s resignation on June 30, 2019. Additional action authorized the Mayor to negotiate an employment agreement with Mills to be approved by the council at a date prior to June 30, 2019.  

In making the appointment, Shelton remarked that the city’s ability to promote from within has historically served the city well.  

“When I learned of Mike’s decision to resign, I began to consider the talent that we already have on staff,” said Shelton. “James’ name came to my attention and in one-on-one conversations with James, it became apparent that he had an interest in filling the position. 

“Each councilmember has had the opportunity to meet with James on an individual basis and we are pleased to be able to make the appointment at this time,” Shelton added. “This will give James time to work with Mike in the remaining months prior to his departure, allowing for continuity in the transition.”

“I’ve have had the opportunity to work with Mr. Mills over the years and believe he possesses the knowledge and skills necessary for the job,” Councilman Chuck Womack said. “I’m pleased to be able to promote from within the city.” 

“I’ve been impressed with my interactions and presentations I have observed from James Mills and believe he will be a good fit for the office of City Manager,” said Vice-Mayor Laurin Wheaton. 

Councilman Mark Miller reiterated those sentiments and added, “After speaking with James, it was clear to me that he could provide the transition needed to continue the work necessary to support this city’s progress.”  

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with James on the Planning Commission as well as observing his interaction with citizens and staff,” Councilman Eric Walker said. “In my conversation with James, it was evident he would be a natural choice to bring to the post.”  

Shelton echoed the sentiments adding, “I believe James will be able to continue the progress we desire for the city of Cookeville and will provide for a smooth transition for our citizens and employees.”

Davidson expressed his appreciation for all the support and confidence that he has enjoyed from the council, city staff and community during his tenure as the city manager.  

“I wasn’t seeking employment,” said Davidson. “An opportunity was presented that will allow me to continue working in public service, but from a different perspective.  I will miss the people I work with the most when I leave.

“Cookeville is a wonderful city that has a firm foundation to continue to build upon.   I feel confident in James’ leadership ability and look forward to working with him through this process,” added Davidson.

James Mills began work at the city of Cookeville in November 1998.  Prior to coming to the city of Cookeville, Mills was employed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development as a Principal Community Planner. He has a Master’s of Science in Planning (ABT) from the University of Tennessee.  In his role at the city, he serves as Chairman of the Center Hill RPO.  He holds certification by the American Institute of City Planners and provides oversight to the City’s Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Historic Zoning Commission and Architectural Design Review Board.

Mills, in accepting the appointment, expressed his sincere appreciation for the opportunity.  

“I am humbled and honored to be named.  I am blessed to live and work in Cookeville and I’m excited about the future,” said Mills.  

Mills and his wife, Kim, have three children and have lived in Cookeville for many years.  

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