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‘No Two Days Are the Same’ 

The question I’m most often asked is what the role of city manager in municipal government is. Regardless of the community, many residents do not seem fully aware of what this role is or how it functions.  

Columbia has a council-manager form of government, something that combines the political leadership of elected officials with the managerial experience of an appointed professional manager.  

While elected officials, such as mayors and city council members, set the policies and goals for the city, it’s the city manager who translates these into actionable plans and initiatives. They work to implement the policies and directives of the city council, ensuring that the city government operates smoothly and efficiently.  

A large part of this is managing the various departments and agencies within city government. This includes overseeing budgets, personnel management, and coordination among different departments to ensure that services are delivered efficiently and effectively.  

It’s been a privilege of mine to have served in this field for over twenty-five years. Working to ensure the smooth day-to-day operations of a city’s services provides a unique opportunity to serve a community and contribute to its betterment.  

Every day in city management brings new challenges and opportunities. From budget management to community engagement, no two days are the same. This dynamic environment keeps the role interesting and offers continual opportunities for growth, learning, and connecting with the community.  

This is especially true in Columbia. Now two and a half years into my tenure as city manager of the city of Columbia, I recently passed another major milestone — the presentation of my third “State of the City” address.  

Thanks to the involvement and direction of our residents and the tireless work of our employees, we have made considerable progress in tackling many complex issues in our community. I’ve said it before, but Columbia is truly a special place. We have a highly engaged community that is passionate about making our community the best it can be.  

Columbia is unique in another aspect. Municipalities are the backbone of local governance, providing essential services that directly impact the quality of life for residents. But, as a truly full-service city, Columbia stands out among other communities.  

Our utilities encompass electricity, water, wastewater, solid waste, and stormwater. We provide public safety and health services. We operate bus routes, a railroad, and a regional airport. We have recently established an office to address housing inequality and are establishing another to address community violence. 

As city manager, this amounts to overseeing more than twenty departments staffed with 1,600 dedicated employees who are committed to delivering services year-round to our residents.  In the city manager’s office, I’m thankful to have a team of individuals highly experienced in city management and governance to support me in overseeing Columbia’s day-to-day municipal operations.  

Columbia’s Deputy City Manager Matt Unrein and Assistant City Manager Carol Rhodes bring to the table a well-rounded skill set and passion for good governance that helps propel Columbia forward. We’re currently recruiting a second assistant city manager who we are certain will bring even more to our community.  

One resource we have relied heavily on is the International City/County Management Association. This is an organization I became involved with early in my career, having possessed the voluntary designation of ICMA-CM for over twenty years of my time in city government.  

This abbreviation stands for the International City/County Management Association Credentialed Manager designation. The ICMA-CM is a voluntary credentialing program that recognizes city managers that have achieved a significant combination of education and local government leadership experience and have committed to continuing professional development.  

This accreditation is not just a credential; it is a commitment to competence, ethical governance, and continuous improvement. I’m proud to say that Matt and Carol are also recognized with the ICMA-CM designation.  

When residents trust that their city manager is acting with integrity and fairness, they are more likely to support municipal initiatives and comply with regulations. This trust facilitates a cooperative relationship between the community and the local government, making it easier to implement policies and programs that benefit everyone and make Columbia the best place to live, work, learn, and play.


De'Carlon Seewood

De’Carlon Seewood is the City Manager of Columbia.

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