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Email reveals reasons for city manager resignation

Recently departed Suffolk City Manager Patrick Roberts wanted a better work-life balance and had found a different job that he felt was more in line with that.

In a Sept. 29 email from Roberts to all city staff obtained by the Suffolk News-Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request, he expressed that it was the right time for him to leave Suffolk.

“After careful and lengthy reflection, I recently came to the decision that this would be the right time for me to wrap up my work in Suffolk and pursue another opportunity,” Roberts wrote.

He said it was not an easy decision for him “because of the number of genuine relationships” he had with people who worked for the city and lived in the city.

Roberts resigned effective Oct. 2, and City Council appointed Al Moor to serve as interim city manager effective Oct. 3. Mayor Linda Johnson said it was with heavy hearts that council agreed to accept Roberts’ resignation.

However, he was offered, and accepted, a position with an unnamed community association in northeast North Carolina.

“I am hopeful that this move will allow me to continue to gain and apply new skills, form positive relationships with my co-workers and neighbors and strike a more sustainable balance of my obligations to my family and to my work,” wrote Roberts, who is married with two daughters.

Roberts, a Portsmouth native, previously worked in the city as the assistant director in the Department of Planning and Community Development, and before that, was the senior assistant to the chief administrative officer for the city of Richmond.

Roberts served in a number of roles with the city from 2007 until his recent resignation. He became interim city manager in May 2015 before receiving the unanimous vote of council Sept. 16, 2015, to become city manager. He took the oath for the position Oct. 26, 2015.

Having been a public sector employee for 25 years, he said the role would be a “very different course” for him, but he added that he has never been more encouraged about Suffolk’s future as he is now.

“We have accomplished so much through cooperation, generosity and respect,” Roberts said. “Through these principles, the goals that we have shared and worked towards will continue to be accomplished. I trust that the City Council believes in the value of every city employee and the work that we do each day that I have worked as a city of Suffolk employee, and I count my experiences here as some of the greatest rewards of my life.”