Speculation about why Greensboro City Manager David Parrish resigned, effective June 30, abounds.
One theory is that Parrish saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to leave on his own terms, unlike former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing and High Point City Manager Greg Demko.
Parrish, 42, was promoted from interim city manager to city manager by a unanimous vote of the City Council in June 2019.
Although Parrish had only officially been interim city manager since the retirement of City Manager Jim Westmoreland on April 30, 2019, he had unofficially been interim – or perhaps co-city manager with Westmoreland – for months. Because of illness in his family, Westmoreland was unable to devote the countless hours it takes to do the job of city manager and Parrish had stepped up taking much of the responsibility for the day-to-day function of the city.
So, when the City Council voted for Parrish to officially take the reins, they were well acquainted with Parrish and the way he worked.
Hiring a 39-year-old as city manager seemed like a decision that would result in long stability in that job, particularly since Parrish is a native of Greensboro and, from his career path, it appeared he had set his sights on being Greensboro city manager for years. A little under three years later, Parrish announced he was resigning at the end of the fiscal year.
Some say Parrish resigned because of recent events in Guilford County and resigned before he was asked or forced to resign.
Demko, who had received high marks from some as High Point city manager, resigned in May 2020 after many closed sessions on personnel matters since the newly elected council was seated in December 2019. Although closed sessions on personnel matters are confidential, many appeared to be about Demko.
Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing resigned in December 2020, right after the newly elected Guilford County Board of Commissioners took office.
Both managers resigned, but based on the resignation packages they were forced out. Demko received a year’s salary and got to keep his bonus and Lawing received seven months’ salary. Because managers can be fired with no warning, most contracts contain a clause that awards them six months to a year salary if they are fired. This gives the managers some negotiating room if they resign under pressure.
The evidence is that both Demko and Lawing were encouraged to resign with lucrative resignation packages.
Parrish by contrast is simply resigning and received a nice framed plaque from the City Council.
If you’re the Greensboro city manager, and the High Point city manager and the Guilford County manager – the two other people in the country with similar positions – are both sent packing shortly after elections, resigning before the Greensboro City Council election makes a lot of sense.
One might look at Parrish leaving like the old advice that you should leave a party while you’re still having fun, which is not to imply that working for the City Council as the city manager of Greensboro is fun.