Assistant City Manager Prosser Retires After 32 Years with Raleigh
News posted Dec. 28, 2012 - 11:00 pm
Not many people can light up a room with wit and charm like Julian Prosser. And there is no better salesman for the City of Raleigh than the affable assistant city manager. Mr. Prosser is retiring effective Dec. 31 after a career in public service that spans more than 40 years, including 32 years with the City of Raleigh.
Mr. Prosser’s engaging personality is best summed up in an invitation to his retirement reception at the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex on Dec. 20. The invitation was written by a fellow City staff member. It reads in part:
"...Julian kept up the good fight, winning others over with his infectious sense of humor, talk of partnerships, can-do positivity and vision for a better future.”
"I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of mentors, advisors, friends, co-workers, and partners over the years,” Mr. Prosser said. “They’ve all had a tremendous impact on me and my career.”
City Manager J. Russell Allen praised Mr. Prosser for his upbeat style and tireless service to the City of Oaks.
"Have you ever met anyone with a more natural exuberation or a more fertile mind?,” the City Manager said at Mr. Prosser’s retirement reception. “It is so refreshing and stimulating. We all just try to keep up!
"Julian’s hand prints are on so many good things in our city, from affordable housing to major economic development projects," Mr. Allen added, "But the biggest imprint is not just on projects and programs that serve our citizens but rather most notable is his impact on us as a respected colleague, a mentor, an advisor and most importantly as a friend who always wants the best for each of us."
Following his retirement, Mr. Prosser will work part time for the City of Raleigh in the Office of Sustainability, which he helps oversee. “So this isn’t a farewell; I will be around but not as much,” he said, laughing.
Mr. Prosser has served in various positions with the City of Raleigh and other governments over the past four-plus decades.
While working on a bachelor’s degree in political science at Davidson College near Charlotte, Mr. Prosser launched his public service career working as an intern for the Queen City’s traffic engineering office and for a regional planning agency in Georgia. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1968, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina where he obtained a master’s degree in public administration in 1972. As part of his studies in Chapel Hill, Mr. Prosser worked for the City of Asheville in the City Manager’s Office and the Planning Department.
His career was interrupted for three months in 1971 when he served active duty in the U.S. Army undergoing training at Fort Benning, Ga., during the Vietnam War. He feels fortunate that he was never sent overseas for actual combat duty.
After his short stint in the military, Mr. Prosser returned to Asheville to work for the French Broad Law Enforcement Planning Agency. In December 1971, he was named town manager for the Town of Wake Forest, a position he held for eight years and one that provided him with invaluable experience. He helped negotiate a deal that allowed Wake Forest to get water from the City of Raleigh and tackled other complicated issues for the town, such as annexing property, implementing new zoning and subdivision ordinances, building a wastewater treatment plant and changing the distribution voltage for the town’s electric utility.
"Being town manager in Wake Forest was a great building block experience for a young guy,” Mr. Prosser said.
In 1980, he began his career with the City of Raleigh working in the Public Utilities Department. He was hired by Dempsey E. Benton, then an assistant city manager who would later serve as Raleigh’s city manager from 1983 to 2000. While in the Public Utilities Department, Mr. Prosser was involved with land application of biosolids, water conservation and grant work.
Four years later in 1984, Mr. Prosser was named director of the City’s Community Development Department. He led Raleigh’s affordable housing and neighborhood redevelopment efforts and helped secure the City’s first affordable housing bond issue.
“I am really proud of the affordable housing projects the City has implemented," he said. "We helped a lot of people that otherwise could not afford housing. Affordable housing has been a very successful program for the City over the years."
As part of a reorganization of Raleigh City government, Mr. Prosser was named director of the Administrative Services Department in 1995. He oversaw the Budget Office, Fleet Management, the Real Estate Office and the Minority- and Women-Owned Business Program (now the Small Disadvantaged Minority- and Women-Owned Business Program).
In 2004, Mr. Prosser was named assistant city manager by Mr. Allen, the current city manager. In this role he has overseen many special projects, including several revitalization efforts in Downtown Raleigh and many of the City’s sustainability initiatives. Mr. Prosser is especially proud of the City being recognized as a national leader in sustainability, thanks in part to his contributions.
Mr. Prosser has long advocated the use of alternative fuels in City vehicles to save costs and protect the environment. His interest in sustainability issues grew when he helped establish the City’s Office of Sustainability. In 2011, less than three years after the Office of Sustainability was started, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named Raleigh the “Most Sustainable Mid-sized City in the United States.” Mr. Prosser has been involved in the City’s numerous green efforts, including establishment of the Environmental Advisory Board; participation in Project Get Ready, an electric vehicle initiative of the Rocky Mountain Institute based in Colorado; renewable energy initiative; Free Green Jobs Workforce training program; smart grid initiative; and the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative.
Last September, Mr. Prosser was named 2012 Green Public Official of the Year by the Triangle chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in collaboration with the Triangle Business Journal. Mr. Prosser received the honor for promoting environmentally sustainable practices in the Capital City’s communities and businesses.
"It says a lot about the City of Raleigh when it embraces new technologies, such as electric vehicles and photovoltaic energy," he said.
When not working for the City in a part-time role, Mr. Prosser plans to travel and spend time with his three grandchildren. He is enrolled to participate in the upcoming session of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. The leadership program is dedicated to building and sustaining a diverse network of leaders who will help resolve Georgia’s environmental challenges. Mr. Prosser is a Georgia native.
"I am going to try to keep learning things," he said, smiling.