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New hire Novo sees ‘great potential’ in Granite Shoals

Sarah Novo, Ken and Pat Bradshaw

Interim City Manager Sarah Novo (right) chats with Granite Shoals City Council meeting regulars Ken and Pat Bradshaw after she was hired during the Feb. 27 meeting. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Sarah Novo begins work as Granite Shoals’ interim city manager on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The City Council unanimously approved her $145,000-a-year contract during its regular meeting on Tuesday.

“I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to work with the community and the council for the city of Granite Shoals,” the new hire said after the council’s decision. “I look forward to doing great things together.”

Novo is taking over the interim city manager role from Fire Chief Tim Campbell, who has been performing dual duties since former City Manager Peggy Smith resigned on Jan. 9.

Novo was chosen from among several applicants who had originally applied for the assistant city manager position under Smith. After Smith resigned, the council considered Novo for the interim job. A series of positive interviews led to an offer.

“She was interviewed by all seven councilors and all the (city) department heads, and everyone had a favorable impression,” said Mayor Ron Munos when asked about the hiring process. “It’s seldom that you have all of the council and the department heads agree on something, so we took that as a win.”

After a month of negotiations, Novo was offered a contract on Feb. 21, which she accepted the same day. She will be commuting from her home in Liberty Hill. The nature of the interim job means nothing is set in stone and the contract can be ended without penalty by either party with 30 days’ notice.

The council’s Tuesday night vote was the final stamp of approval in the hiring process.

DailyTrib.com asked Novo about her decision to come to Granite Shoals.

Granite Shoals Interim City Manager Sarah Novo
Sarah Novo, the new interim city manager of Granite Shoals, in City Council Chambers on Feb. 27. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

“This was a very strategic move for me,” she said. “Granite Shoals has a lot of potential. I took some time to drive around the city. I see that it is a diamond in the rough. There’s a lot of great potential, a lot of great people, and super (city) staff.”

She cited her 20 years in local government, including a stint as the city manager of Flatonia, Texas, and as parks and recreation manager for Rocklin, California. She noted that her experience managing parks could be an asset to Granite Shoals, which calls itself “The City of Parks” for its 19 public green spaces.

“I served as a parks and recreation manager for over 600 acres of parkland,” she said. “We did major park redevelopment for a larger city, the city of Rocklin (population 70,000). I’ve got a lot of experience with managing and maintaining parkland.”

The previous two city managers in Granite Shoals had controversial tenures. Smith resigned following her involvement in a discussion on killing feral cats and her mismanagement of city funds. Jeff Looney was terminated in 2022 for interpersonal conflicts with City Council members. 

Novo is aware of the conflicts with past city managers and said she would do her best to communicate openly with city staff, council members, and residents.

“I understand that there may be a lot of conversations that need to be had so that we can find where people’s priorities are, whether that looks like a coffee chat or a newsletter,” she said. “I’m available, I’m here, and I’d love to hear from the community. I’d love to meet and understand better what (the community’s) concerns are and what they’d like to see different in the city.”

dakota@thepicayune.com