James Parajon named next city manager

James Parajon named next city manager
Alexandria City Hall. (Photo/Missy Schrott)

By Olivia Anderson | oanderson@alextimes.com

City Council announced at a special meeting yesterday that James Parajon will be Alexandria’s new city manager. Parajon will replace Mark Jinks, who announced his retirement in June after six years as city manager.

Parajon comes from Arlington, Texas, where he has served since 2006. He brings with him three decades of experience as a professional planner, with his most recent role as deputy city manager. He previously served as Arlington’s community development and planning director, where he was responsible for the management of real estate services, planning and the Arlington Housing Authority.

James Parajon.

According to Parajon, he comes to Alexandria looking to work alongside the city’s residents.

“I believe very, very, very strongly in community engagement. As a professional planner, that’s my background. That’s my DNA. You don’t develop a plan, you don’t develop a neighborhood effort, you don’t develop initiatives without robust community engagement,” Parajon said.

Parajon said Arlington parallels Alexandria in many ways, including with its own flooding issues, infrastructure delivery challenges and focus on equity, affordable housing and diversity.

Parajon also stated that his professional background coupled with his management style, which he called “collaborative” and open to partnerships, will prove an asset when he starts his new role.

“While the issues may be different in some respects, there are also commonalities. My background is 30- plus years both in the private and public sector and I’ve dealt with many of these issues head on,” Parajon said. “All throughout my career I’ve had a chance to work in various phases trying to address all those challenges.”

Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, who served on the panel that interviewed candidates for the next city manager, said he was proud of council’s decision, which followed a nationwide search that began in July.

“I was impressed by Jim’s knowledge and experience in handling complex issues,” Lawhorne said. “He also has a proven track record of working with staff and communities to achieve mutual goals. Our City Council conducted a fair and open process that produced an excellent choice.”

Originally from Poughkeepsie, New York, Parajon holds an undergraduate degree from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Parajon will return to the east coast with his wife, Elizabeth, and plans to live in Alexandria. He said that he was struck by the city’s vitality after a visit in September.

“The vibrancy stuck out, the quality of the people and businesses – that’s what drove me to consider moving halfway across the country to Alexandria,” Parajon said.

Parajon will assume the role on Jan. 18, 2022.