Published on: Thursday, January 2, 2020 News

So Long, Fair City


I have served the City of Takoma Park as Deputy City Manager since the summer of 2015, when I decided to uproot my family in North Carolina and head a bit north for an excellent career opportunity in a city I had heard so many good things about. That was an easy decision for me.

The one I made more recently, to say farewell to Takoma Park for a change of scenery in Colorado, was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.

Jason Damweber, Deputy City Manager
Jason Damweber, Deputy City Manager

When I assumed my role with the city, it did not take me long to realize just how special of a place Takoma Park is. The city is wonderfully diverse, the tree canopy is the envy of other jurisdictions in the region, the restaurants and farmers markets are among the best around, the parks and Sligo Creek are beautiful at any time of year, and the sense of community is simply amazing. In Takoma Park, residents and community leaders don’t simply talk about their values, they live them every day…and it shows.

The organization is also very special. The Takoma Park city staff are some of the most hard-working and dedicated public servants I have had the privilege to call my colleagues. They are professional, customer-oriented, responsive, and highly ethical. The staff not only understands the values of the community, but they also share and promote those values. In short, the city is in great hands!

I know that people often wonder what the job of deputy city manager actually entails. In addition to overseeing the IT and Communications Departments, as well as the Finance and Human Resources Departments more recently, I have overseen all of the city’s purchasing and procurement processes, managed countless special projects and contacts, provided assistance and support to the City Manager and Councilmembers in just about anything they needed assistance with, and written, written, written (agenda items for Council meetings, legislative testimony, content for the city’s many communications channels, responses to Councilmember and resident inquiries, etc.). During my time with the city, I have developed and implemented a number of regulations, processes, and procedures designed to improve internal operations (especially those related to planning for capital expenditures and technology); created the city’s first online, “living” project directory (a one-stop shop for up-to-date information about the dozens of ongoing projects across the city); helped facilitate the ongoing racial equity work of the city; overseen the Police Department during a time of transition and uncertainty, including working with Council to develop an inclusive process for hiring the new Chief (we got a good one!); created and administered an internal working group of project managers from across the organization which meets regularly (which we call the “Information Network”) to break down silos, cultivate cross-departmental relationships, and improve internal communication; and created and regularly convened a working group of area non-profit leaders (the Takoma Park Providers Council) to facilitate collaboration and share information, ideas, and resources.

While I am very proud of the work I have done in Takoma Park, none of these accomplishments could have happened without such an extraordinary team in place!

Needless to say, I will truly miss the professional relationships – and the friendships – I have made with so many residents, Councilmembers, and staff. I am grateful to all the city staff who have been fantastic to work with and from whom I’ve learned a lot. I am grateful to the City Council for their trust and confidence in me as I have worked hard (and often tirelessly!) to support them in meeting their goals and objectives. And I want to give a special thanks to City Manager Suzanne Ludlow for giving me the chance to progress in my career, for affording me tremendous professional development opportunities, for empowering me to make decisions and providing me with the right amount of autonomy to do so and, most importantly, for being a truly good person and friend. With Suzanne at the helm of an excellent staff with countless opportunities on the horizon, I know the city will only get better and better as a place to live, work, shop, dine, and play.

All my best wishes to Takoma Park in the New Year and the future!