Johnson City City Manager Pete Peterson announces retirement

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Johnson City City Manager Pete Peterson announced his retirement at the end of the year during Thursday evening’s City Commission meeting.

“I announce to you my impending retirement,” Peterson said as he read a letter out loud to the commission. “This year marks my 31st with the city of Johnson City and the time has now come for me to shift the focus from work to my family.”

Peterson has served more than 30 years with the city. He started as a development specialist in 1991 before being named assistant city manager in 1995, interim city manager in 2004, and city manager in 2005.

“I don’t think there’s a place you could ever ride around in Johnson City that you don’t see your hand, your finger prints on that,” said Commissioner and former mayor Jenny Brock as she thanked Peterson for his work and reminisced on their time together.

Peterson has been a part of the revitalization of downtown, flood mitigation projects, multiple school constructions and a variety of other projects during his time with the city… including a few that are currently underway like the West Walnut Street expansion and State of Franklin Rejuvenation project.

“You’ll never reach the point to where you can say ‘Oh, I got all the projects I wanted to do done,’ because you’ve always got something in the planning stage or the funding stage,” Peterson said.

Peterson faced controversy in the last year.

A fire prevention officer filed a formal complaint against Peterson after an email exchange in which he said Peterson berated him and threatened his employment.

That led to an outside investigation and formal notice from Commissioners to Peterson that some of his behavior “is not acceptable and must change immediately.”

“The report that arose out of the investigation verified that it wasn’t an extraordinarily significant event and the investigation’s done, the report’s out,” said Peterson. “My decision was made long before that chain of events.”

The city manager is appointed by the city commission to oversee government operations.

Johnson City mayor Joe Wise hopes the new hire will build on the foundation built by Peterson.

“I hope the next city manager looks and sees a city that has its fiscal house in order, has a strategic vision for the direction it wants to go, recognizes the opportunities of the W Walnut Street Corridor, the downtown redevelopment along with a great quality local public school system,” he said.

You can view Peterson’s letter to city officials announcing his retirement below.

The city will hire a firm to begin the search for a new city manager. City officials believe it will take about six to eight months to find Peterson’s replacement.

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