David Gregory is carrying the weight of the city on his shoulders, but the former Berea Police Chief is getting more rest as he transitions into his new post as City Administrator.
“I’m getting more sleep,” he said with a smile. “It has been easy (but) it’s kind of scary too, because I used to get calls at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning on issues affecting the police department. So that has been a change, I’m not getting those phone calls. I think it’s kind of less stressful to be honest with you.”
In his previous role as police chief, Gregory said leadership decisions were mostly made on the spot and with little time to spare.
“As a police chief, you are dealing with decisions that are on the spot,” he said. “There could be a barricade situation and they are coming to me (to make an immediate decision). You’ve got to be very quick in your decision-making (as a police chief).”
Gregory officially replaced long-time Berea City Administrator Randy Stone on Oct. 1 but worked alongside Stone for more than two months to get an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the city. As he soon found out, the decision-making required less spontaneous reaction.
“In this role, you can be methodical and take your time with decisions and you don’t have to rush to judgment (on a decision). It could be economic issues, community development, codes and planning issues or utilities,” he said. “A lot of those things aren’t life or death situations. What has been the biggest transition for me is knowing how to make those decisions and you don’t have to rush to judgement and you can think about things.”
Gregory’s managerial style closely resembles that of Stone but Gregory is more hands on when it comes to technology and social media. He plans to be active through social media and ran a Facebook poll on the renaming of the Berea Police and Municipal Building, which recently changed its name to the Berea City Annex Building.
“We’re a little different,” he said. “On the technology side, I understand it a little more, with the internet and being able to communicate through social media. Knowing the platform social media can bring through your government is significant. We’re different in that aspect.”
When it comes to leading the city, Gregory doesn’t use a micro-management approach.
“All the department heads know what they’re doing and they know how to do their job,” he said. “Randy (Stone) had everything in place for the last (22) years and everybody knows what their role is and their positions. There’s been a learning curve for me as well.”
That learning curve has included mastering his multi-tasking skills and he added that “you have to be good at it.”
“As police chief, you deal with police world stuff,” Gregory said. “Over here, the police (chief) may come in to tell you of an issue that’s going on, then 10 minutes later, there is an economic development issue with somebody willing to relocate here. It’s just that change in dynamics. You go from one field to another with a snap of a finger.”
One of Gregory’s top goals is to establish a good repitoire with the community and make sure each entity is aware of cultural differences among citizens.
“(I want to) develop public trust in our government,” he said. “I think that is really lacking right now as far as the community trusting our government. I want to bridge that gap and figure out ways to be more open and transparent and getting buy-in from the community. Building that public trust is my No. 1 priority.”
He also said economic growth is a main concern and is seeking community input on strategic planning in the city and would be in favor of alcohol sales from an “economic growth perspective.”
“We do need to grow and I know alcohol sales has been a contentious issue,” he said, adding that effort begins with a grassroots approach. “Wet is a possibility because everybody around us now is wet. Mount Vernon went wet and they’re seeing a lot more economic growth in retail, restaurants and those areas.
“It’s important for Berea to recognize outside of Berea things that are going on.”
Gregory also favors a clean city and has already asked the Public Works Department “to focus on trash pickup,” adding, “we’ve got to make sure our community and business owners are taking ownership in making our town cleaner.”
In addition, Gregory wants the city to standout when visitors make a stop at either of the two exits.
“That’s the face of Berea when you come off those (exit ramps),” he said. “That’s what people see and we’ve just got to keep those (exits) looking good.”