MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Assistant City Manager John Pedersen has been selected to replace Tom Leath as the next City Manager of Myrtle Beach.
The City Council voted unanimously to select Pedersen during a special session Monday morning.
Council members spoke to WMBF News about the selection process and say this is one of the most important decisions that has been made in the city in the last 15 years.
Pedersen lives in North Myrtle Beach and currently serves as the Assistant City Manager. In his previous experience, he served a variety of roles, including Assistant City Manager to the city of Durham, North Carolina.
Pedersen was selected from a
. The other three candidates were: Edward Driggers - City Administrator in Greer, Jonathan Simons - City Administrator in Easley, and Robert Middaugh - former County Administrator for James County, VA.
The current city manager, Tom Leath,
. Leath has been leading Myrtle Beach's day to day operations for the past 27 years, leaving the new manager with big shoes to fill. Since Leath's announcement, city council said it has led an extensive search.
When Pedersen takes over, he will work alongside Leath until the end of the year. Council members talked about their decision saying Pedersen has a unique advantage in that he has been with the city day-in and day-out for the last 12 years.He has the experience in dealing with how Myrtle Beach is run, and the problems and issues the city faces.
"The city manager is very similar to the CEO of a corporation. [The city manager] helps to run the corporation itself, implementing the policies of city council." Pedersen says. "Also, there's a function of recommending policy as well."
Pedersen says in the next 5 - 7 years, many department heads will be retiring. One of the biggest challenges he says he will face as the so-called CEO of the city is keeping it as highly functioning as it is now when those changes happen.
"The team has to stay committed to what it's been doing even though the players, again, are changing."
The city manager should facilitates those changes.
He will have his hand in everything, from police and fire, to water and sewer service, trash pick-up, to parks and recreation.
What city council votes on, the city manager implements.
"There's a function of recommending policy as well," Pedersen says. "You know, 'We believe that this is the correct response to this issue', is an important part in the city manager's position as well. Not just following the policy but also recommending the appropriate policies."
Pedersen will take over for Tom Leath, who has been city manager for the last 27 years.
"He'll be charged with administering a city that has 800 employees and $160 million budget," remarked Dr. Robert E. Speir, Jr., a Myrtle Beach City Councilman.
"It is no small task for any man or woman to undertake, and we have the utmost confidence in Mr. Pedersen with his experience and good judgment."
There was plenty to take into consideration. Specifically, council needed a candidate to deal with certain things unique to Myrtle Beach.
"Obviously, the Memorial Day issue was the number one thing," according to Pedersen. Council had to find a candidate ready to take on the challenge of keeping the city safe in 2015.
"I've been here for the last 12 years, and I've been on Ocean Boulevard for each of the Memorial Day weekends to see what's actually happening firsthand."
Pedersen has been involved in the process of deciding how to handle the crowds during Memorial Day weekend next year. He says he is confident the city will be prepared.
Pedersen also says he wants to expand initiatives the city has taken over the last few years - namely sports tourism, and improving quality of life in certain neighborhoods in Myrtle Beach.
Once Pedersen and the city attorney agree to contractual terms and salary, Pedersen will officially be named City Manager.