- Published: April 4, 2019
After 23 years of experience, Pete Bales has only grown more passionate about serving the community. He is a lifelong resident of Greene County and the current assistant city manager in Fairborn.
Throughout his years of public service, Bales has taken on roles including parks and recreation director, public works director, assistant city manager and interim city manager. He has had direct supervision of the departments of finance, public works, police, fire, development services, economic development, information technology, parks and recreation, and human resources.
Recently, he has focused his efforts on implementing critical economic development initiatives that served as a pivotal point in the city’s recent development boom downtown. Bales spearheaded the installation of a fiber optic infrastructure, Smart City development, stormwater management, and facilities redevelopment in downtown Fairborn. He is particularly proud of the redevelopment of the entire 300 block of West Main Street in Fairborn, which is now home to Co-Hatch, a space for individuals, small businesses and non-profits to collaboratively work together and build their businesses. The successful pivot of Fairborn’s economic development initiatives is one of Pete’s proudest moments, topped, of course, by his marriage to his wife Amanda and two children, Jack and Cara.
Question1: Describe your experiences related to planning, budgeting and managing day-to-day operations of a government agency or as an executive in the private sector.
I thrive when given the opportunity and privilege to lead teams and managing projects. One of my greatest strengths is rallying the community, elected officials and staff around a common project, before deploying people to organize and accomplish the task. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty. I should never expect something of someone I am not willing to do myself. And I hope I have made that a clear part of the reputation I have built for myself thus far.
I have extensive experience managing departments, people and relevant projects in the fields of public works, human resources, information technology and parks and recreation and special events. I have a broad understanding of finance, police, fire, planning and economic development operations. I have prepared and managed a $36-million operating budget and a $45-million capital improvement budget.
Managing people and projects is my strong suit. In a recent leadership training, my co-workers used the following six items to categorize my best management attributes: “good listener, open door policy, detailed, fair, calm under pressure and a straight shooter.” I am extremely excited to be able to bring those and other leadership skills to the benefit of the Village.
Question 2: Give examples of how you have fostered inclusion and acceptance and embraced diversity in your current and previous positions.
Diversity is the thread that weaves together beautiful communities. Progress comes from the result of collisions and collaboration. People with differing opinions, religious beliefs, cultural practices, and so on, are critical to the success of any community. It has always been my mantra to listen to and evaluate all perspectives in an objective manner with the benefit of the community in mind. I pride myself not only on my willingness to engage with anyone, but also to foster and support people to engage with each other. As a Credentialed City Manager, I have a duty to work by a code of ethics that relishes such inclusion, and I believe that all people have the ability to — and should — actively engage with their local government. To encourage this collaboration, I strive to eliminate barriers to public involvement in decisions, programs, and services. I believe that public hearings on important issues are an integral part of the democratic process. Furthermore, I believe it is critical to achieve diversity within local government to give a fair representation of the community. This diversity and inclusive environment must be ingrained into all levels of government and embraced from top to bottom.
Question 3: How do you view the role of policing in a community and what ideas or practices would you bring to the running of the police department?
First and foremost, police department personnel must be committed to the protection and service of all people and property within the village. In order to be effective, it is imperative that the police department be considered a trusted and valuable partner within the community. Establishing such trust results in the villagers and the police proactively working together to solve issues. The police must carry out their mission with transparency, integrity, empathy, and mutual respect with every person they encounter. An effective police force must have a deep understanding and buy-in regarding inclusion and anti-racism beliefs and demonstrate fairness and equality in all decisions. It is important that our police officers are engaged with all members of the community and create positive interactions even when faced with adverse conditions. I will expect the police department to take an active role with all segments of the community to create lasting and meaningful relationships and develop an understanding of community needs and values. I would expect all Village team members to actively participate in community events and make personal connections with the villagers. Inclusion and accessibility are paramount in fostering a thriving community.
Question 4: What are your leadership and management styles?
My management style revolves around three major themes: communication, accessibility and teamwork.
Communication, especially in government, needs to be a two-way street. Listening to the needs of the community, as well as the advice and guidance from Council and coworkers is absolutely imperative while serving in this role. Understanding the perspectives, issues and concerns from key stakeholders is paramount. I pride myself in communicating effectively so people feel heard, respected and informed.
Accessibility is crucial. No one wants to feel as if the local government is on a different team. We are all on the same team. I believe strongly in having an open door policy, and making myself available to the community in easy and approachable environments. I plan to bring local government to the community outside the confinement of my office, so we can all grow together.
Developing leaders, empowering people and building successful teams has always been my strong suit. I believe healthy relationships are built on a solid foundation of trust. And it is no different in government. With that said, my style of leadership fosters the development of a highly effective, open, honest and direct team desiring to succeed as one unit.
Question 5: Discuss your experiences in retaining, growing or enhancing business.
I truly believe economic development comes from within. It comes from a place of pride in community and place. Everything our local government does has an economic development impact. Filling potholes, paving streets, creating green-space and trails all have a correlation to the economic viability of the village, but what I have learned throughout my years in government, is that economic development can’t be handed out to the community from the government. It is a team effort! When we focus on removing barriers and increasing accessibility, we can build some really positive momentum.
I have had the privilege to work on many projects related to economic development. The main focus has been the revitalization of the downtown district in order to grow, retain and attract business. I implemented a fiber optic infrastructure and Smart City plan including free public Wi-Fi. This Wi-Fi produces analytics which enable the city and businesses to target customers and create marketing initiatives to create awareness and increase profits. Currently, I am spearheading an initiative to create an “Outdoor Refreshment Area” for the economic betterment of the businesses and property owners by further establishing Fairborn’s downtown as a destination for entertainment, culture and social activities.
Question 6: How will you engage with the public to keep citizens informed and to get feedback on your plans and activities?
I thrive on being an active part of the community. I plan to interact in many different formats to share news and gain feedback regarding Village projects and activities. I plan to develop an exceptional relationship with the Yellow Springs News and grow our social media channels to be more inclusive and interactive. I have found it is beneficial to work with the media cooperatively to further the goal of embracing the community into the conversation.
In addition to formal methods of information sharing, I want to engage on a social level with the villagers and develop a trusted rapport to establish quality two-way communication. I am currently the president of the Fairborn Rotary Club. This social and philanthropic organization has created an excellent conduit between the business community and the city. I desire to be involved with business, social and civic clubs as part of the community.
Finally, my door is always open, and I plan to bring my office to the people. I welcome face-to-face interaction. Discussing a topic over a cup of coffee is often the best way to truly engage to understand issues, concerns and spread goodwill.