HAMLET — New city manager Jonathan Blanton, who began working Monday, said even though he has traveled “all around the country and the world,” he’s got a soft spot for cities like Hamlet.
“There is no better feeling than the incredibly accommodating, welcoming and hardworking spirit of small-town America,” he said in a statement to the Daily Journal Thursday. “Hamlet has proven to embody that great spirit. I grew up in a very small town in rural South Carolina and the connection that I immediately experienced with Hamlet was unmistakable.”
Blanton said he has enjoyed getting to know his new colleagues, and is delighted by the availability of two special foods.
“Within the last two weeks, the staff at the city of Hamlet and the people within the community have welcomed me with open-arms and I could not be prouder to be part of such a wonderful community and team,” he explained. “It also helps that fried livermush and sweet potato pie are not rarities here, as they are where I last lived in Washington, D.C.”
Blanton — a South Carolina native — earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Carolina at Upstate,” according to a press release from the city of Hamlet. “After college, he moved to Charlotte where he obtained his juris doctorate and master’s degree in public administration through a dual-degree program between the Charlotte School of Law and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.”
Also a licensed North Carolina attorney, Blanton formerly worked as a voter protection associate for a civil rights law firm and in judicial services for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, both in Washington, D.C. He has also served as a consultant to several local municipalities across North and South Carolina in the fields of economic revitalization and community development, according to the press release.
“I am very excited about joining the great team at the city of Hamlet,” Blanton said. “As the city manager, I will focus on supporting the mission of the city council and the mayor, serving the people and community in Hamlet, and strengthening the excellent employee workforce. By listening to all citizens and employees, I hope to attract people to the community, promote growth and success in all the city departments, and facilitate the hometown feel that makes Hamlet unique.”
Blanton was officially appointed and sworn in as city manager during the council’s regular meeting.
Asked about his personal life, Blanton said, “I’m not terribly exciting. I am single and will be moving to Hamlet without the company of a wife, pets or children. I do love country music, political spectating, and interacting with all types of people. I will be living within a mile of city hall inside the Hamlet city limits, and I am very excited about immersing myself in all that Hamlet has to offer and becoming part of the community.”
A self-described “people’s person,” Blanton said Hamlet residents can expect to have their concerns heard.
I pride myself with the ability to relate to all people,” he said, “and I am a firm believer in respect, communication and working together to accomplish common goals for the common good.”
Reach reporter Melone McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twittter @meloniemclaurin.