Manager Speaks On Departure

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, June 30, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- Town Manager James Barrington said he no longer has the desire to give the level of enthusiasm and commitment to Hampton that he believes a town manager must bring to the community he serves.

Barrington handed in his 60-day notice earlier this week.

Two days after making his surprise announcement, Barrington elaborated on why the timing was right to move on after serving as the town manager for the last 9½ years.

"I think there is a spirit of negativity and I think there is a power struggle going on between elected officials," Barrington said. "I think the community is being sucked into believing lies because it's easier than believing the truth.

"I have done what I felt I could do in the past couple of years to reverse that trend, but I don't see it happening. And if it can't be done, then I want no part of it."

Barrington told selectmen his goal as a manager over the years was implementing "a vision for Hampton that provides excellence in municipal services."

Barrington's accomplishments during his tenure include construction of a new police headquarters and voter approval of a $12 million plan for Hampton Beach infrastructure improvements. Barrington said those accomplishments were made despite the "objections of a noisy minority who lack vision or are motivated by self-serving interests."

But in the last couple of years, Barrington said that vision has been harder to implement, especially with three default budgets in a row.

"I think the default budgets are symptoms of the negativity," Barrington said. "I can understand when voters say they can't afford it. But I can't understand when publicly elected officials advocate for a default budget. And I don't understand when they say we can't afford it, but expect the town to provide the same services it always has. You can't have it both ways."

Barrington said the recent frustrations of the job has made him realize his family and God are the most important things in his life.

"And it's time to put them first where they belong," Barrington said.

The Texas native said when his 60-day notice is up he plans to move to the Texas panhandle. The final decision to return to his home state was made this past Sunday, after talking with his wife and two children. The impetus for the decision goes back several months, when he returned to Texas to attend his mother's funeral.

"While we were there, we looked at what we felt we were missing," he said. "We said there is something missing in our lives. Our spiritual needs were not being met."

Barrington said he's found a new hometown that fits what he was looking for. A place with a nice church and a community that has a Rotary club.

"It seems to fit all of our needs," Barrington said.

Barrington's children are also planing on moving to Texas. Since his announcement, Barrington said he's been overwhelmed by the response of those sad to see him go.

"It's been quite an outpouring and I sincerely appreciate that," Barrington said. "I have a lot of friends in Hampton and throughout the state. ... I'm sure there is a group out there celebrating my departure but they are a part of the reason why I'm looking to leave."

Former selectman Brian Warburton, who was on the board that hired Barrington in November 1996, said he's sad to see him go.

"I just think the world of James," Warburton said. "He has genuine proven record of getting results and a lot of things got done under his tenure."

Selectman Ben Moore said he wasn't surprised Barrington handed in his resignation, especially since earlier this year he applied to become Rochester's city manager.

"I think the surprise was that he's returning to Texas," Moore said.

Selectmen Chairman Ginny Bridle-Russell said the board will meet in a non-public session next week to discuss the procedure of hiring a new town manager. Moore said the board hopes to find a replacement before Barrington leaves.

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