New era of leadership begins in City of Greenwood
November 20, 2018
By: Adam Benson
On a historic night, Greenwood ushered in a new generation of leaders, with Uptown attorney Brandon Smith taking his place as mayor and long-time assistant city manager Julie Wilkie getting a promotion.
Combined, the two are less than 80 years old, and take over for a mayor and administrator who gave 28 years of service to the city.
Smith, 39, took the oath of office on his family’s 171-year-old Bible, flanked by his wife, Tara, and their three boys: 12-year-old Jarratt, Witt, 9, and Benjo, 6.
He quickly took his place with the City Council. As he continues to learn the job, he asked questions about an appointment to the Housing Authority and whether a policy of granting $25 and $50 holiday bonuses to employees was in line with past practice.
Smith also took part in closed door talks that ended with the council unanimously voting to name Wilkie, 37, city manager on Dec. 8 to replace Charlie Barrineau, who is resigning Dec. 7.
Barrineau joined the city as assistant manager in 2000, ascending to the top position in 2009 after current County Council chairman Steve Brown retired from the post.
He is taking on a new job as a field services manager with the Municipal Association of South Carolina, a post that will allow him to work with communities on a range of planning and zoning issues.
Wilkie has served as assistant city manager during Barrineau’s nine-year run, and officials said she was the perfect fit to oversee Greenwood’s day-to-day operations.
“We kept as open a process as we could, but it all just kept coming back to her,” Smith said. “It’s not a position that you typically have to take to a bid process, but it was certainly something we thought about. But I can’t think of anybody more qualified or more prepared.”
Wilkie took the job without a formal contract – that’s going to be negotiated over the coming days and made public once both sides agree to its terms, Smith said.
“I’ve spent nine years learning from Charlie and the City Council. I’ve certainly prepared myself well for this exact role,” Wilkie said. A Greenwood County native, she said she plans to relocate into city limits now that she’ll be its chief administrator.
Wilkie, who helps run the Festival of Discovery, has also played a key role in ongoing beautification efforts in the Uptown and has strong working relationships with city department heads and county officials, she said.
“I know the nuances of city operations, I have rapport with the community and if you hire somebody brand new, it’s much more of a learning curve,” she said. “Greenwood is highly recognized in the municipal world for our Uptown, so it’s certainly a desirable job and being a part of it for the past nine years certainly gives me insight into that.”
With the council expected to approve a $15.87 million 2019 budget that includes a 6.5-mill tax hike, Wilkie said it was important for her to live within the city.
“I think the city manager should live in the city. I’m looking forward to it, actually. I know who’s going to come put my fire out and pick up my trash,” she said.