Qualls prepares to lead Lindsay as city manager

(LinkedIn)

Daymon Qualls steps into his new role as Lindsay City Manager, emphasizing community involvement and stability amidst recent staff changes

LINDSAY – Former public works director Daymon Qualls is taking his career in government out of Exeter and over to Lindsay to assume their top job as city manager. His first order of business is getting a grasp on the state of the city, and community.

Coming into the position, far from Quall’s mind is suggesting policy from the isolation of his office. He said that he plans to prioritize the community and listen to residents regarding what they want to see in their city. Qualls believes that active participation in the community is of the utmost importance in order to gain firsthand knowledge of the needs and priorities of the residents and the council.

“I’ve been raised in this area, so I’m no stranger to Lindsay. It’s gonna take some time for me to really get out and about and learn the community,” Qualls said. “I’ve had great success in building partnerships with not only the community, but nonprofits, service clubs and businesses to help address specific needs and priorities.”

Qualls said one of his goals going into the position is to break down the stigma around Lindsay regarding some of their past issues.

“I think one of the biggest challenges that I see with the city of Lindsay … is overcoming the stigma of past failure, and perceived instability in administrative personnel,” he said.

He also noted that one of the other needs he has heard from residents is economic growth. However one of Quall’s main goals so far is to provide an environment that will make the city staff and residents feel more secure. He believes his leadership style will help bring Lindsay the much needed sense of stability that the city requires.

“I’m going to work really hard to gain the public’s trust and overcome any negative community perception that may exist,” Qualls said.

In particular, Qualls is confident that his experience working for multiple departments in the city has helped prepare him to understand and address the city’s issues from the inside out.

“My skill sets are rather broad,” he said. “I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years and I’m thankful for those opportunities, because they’ve given me a good understanding of municipal government and how cities operate.”

He noted that his experience working as an HR director, police officer, reserve fire apparatus engineer and public works director have all prepared him for this position. While he is excited for his new job as city manager, Qualls said he has mixed emotions around saying goodbye to the city of Exeter.

“It’s a bittersweet time,” Qualls said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given and the experiences that I’ve gained. I still live here, so Exeter will always be my home.”

Qualls is one in a list of administrative changes Lindsay is undergoing this year. The search for Lindsay’s new city manager stems from a massive shakeup in December 2023, when the city announced that former City Manager Joseph Tanner was placed on administrative leave following a special city council meeting on Dec. 6. In his absence, the council appointed the city’s recreation director, Armando da Silva, as interim city manager.

“Silva was serving as the acting city manager, he was doing a great job,” Qualls said.

Overall, Qualls noted his gratitude for all of the Lindsay city staff and the hard work they have put into the city so far. He said getting to know the new staff has already been beneficial and noted that Lindsay’s new finance director, Lacy Menenes, has already shown off her capabilities by quickly getting a hold of the city’s situation. He drew particular attention to her comprehensive budget presentation she gave to Lindsay City Council just two weeks after starting the job.

“I’ve had a considerable amount of interaction with the staff over there throughout the recruitment process, and I have to tell you… They’ve got some brand new good people in place and I’m really looking forward to working with that team,” Qualls said.

Lindsay’s recruitment efforts for a permanent city manager began in late March 2024, and professional interviews conducted by other local city managers were held in May 2024. The council interviewed and selected Qualls in June to move forward with an offer.

“Given his breadth of experience, staff believe Mr. Qualls will be a good fit for the Lindsay community and will work well with city staff and the city council,” the June 25 Lindsay staff report on Qualls hiring stated.

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