By Olivia Anderson | [email protected]
After 23 years of service to the city, City Manager Mark Jinks announced at City Council’s Tuesday legislative meeting that he will be retiring at the end of the year.
“I want to thank the current and former mayors and members of City Council. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the Alexandria community in addressing its challenges and creating a better community for all Alexandria residents and businesses,” Jinks said. “However, I will be 70 in 2022, and it is time to have fresh eyes on the City government organization to help it continue to achieve and improve.”
Jinks first came to the city as Alexandria’s chief financial officer in 1999 and was appointed city manager in 2015.
He said he plans to direct the knowledge he gained from his 45-year state and local government career toward mentoring the next generation of public administrators, in addition to finding time to travel with his wife, Eileen.
Over the years, Jinks has contributed his expertise to many of Alexandria’s major projects and challenges. During his time as city manager, Jinks helped the city manage its budget and operations during COVID-19; create affordable housing; pursue waterfront land acquisition and development; relocate the National Science Foundation to Alexandria; expand capital investments in the city and schools; hire the city’s first race and social equity officer; and plan and fund the Potomac Yard Metrorail station.
Mayor Justin Wilson said that Jinks’ budget expertise and “financial wizardry” played a significant role in championing the city’s community values over the years, specifically in regard to the Landmark Mall redevelopment and Potomac Yard Metro station, which is set to open in a few months.
“There are a lot of folks who had a role in making the [Potomac Yard Metro] station happen, but he’s probably the only essential person,” Wilson said in an interview. “Without him that would not have happened, so that’s a pretty significant legacy sitting right there.”
Wilson also highlighted Jinks’ “steadfast commitment” to public service, local government and finding ways to help city employees grow in their careers. For example, Jinks created a city manager fellowship several years ago, where he moves an up-and-comer from their normal job and into the city manager’s office to learn more about the operations of higher level government work.
“He exposes them to a whole variety of experiences that usually advance their careers in a big way,” Wilson said. “Something he’s always been committed to … is making sure he supports the folks who every day work for this community, and that’s not something you can say about every city manager.”
City Council is responsible for choosing Jinks’ successor, since the city manager reports to council. To find Jinks’ replacement, council will conduct a national search for the first time since former City Manager Rashad Young’s appointment in 2011. City Council has recruited a search firm and plans to listen to community voices during the search.
The process will be defined and announced in the coming weeks, Wilson said.
“The good news is that … whenever we open positions like this there is a whole lot of great talent from around the country that applies,” Wilson said. “I look forward to working with the community and our stakeholders to determine the best leader for city government moving forward.”