Jim Tolbert, Director of Neighborhood Development Services, City of Charlottesville
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born in Opelika, Alabama, which shares a common boundary with Auburn. At 14 I moved to Columbus, Georgia.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I moved to Charlottesville in 1999 to take the job as Director of Neighborhood Development Services. My kids had gone away to school and we were looking for somewhere with a great quality of life.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live in Greenbrier.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
My wife, Anne, and two children, Callie, who works at the Crossings, and J.R., who is in DC and works as the director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I did my undergraduate work at Columbus State University, and I earned my masters from Auburn.
What were you doing before you came to work for the city?
I was essentially doing the same thing in Albany, Georgia.
Your job title is Director of Neighborhood Development Services - what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I manage the planning, engineering and property maintenance, building inspection and grants/housing programs for the city. Or as my kids have always said I meet and color maps.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The best part of my job are the 34 employees I get to work with every day. Over the last 13 ½ years we have put together a team that makes work fun and that are really supportive of each other. I think the most difficult thing is that in my 35+ years in local government the level of civility has changed for the worse. Email has made interaction so impersonal and almost anonymous that sometimes we do not think that the folks on the other end are people that really have the best intentions in mind.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
Probably the most direct way is through the building inspection process. We take the responsibility seriously that we have to make sure that the buildings we work and play in and sleep in at night are as safe as possible. The other thing I think that most people don’t really see is our property maintenance work. Unless you have violated a code you may not know what we do but I think Charlottesville properties are kept in good condition compared to many places I have been.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you've had while with the county?
There are so many it is hard to say. Forced to choose I would say three – the pavilion, the re-bricking of the mall and the Crossings.
What is a little-known fact about you?
Probably that I have been to over 80 Widespread Panic shows in the last 12 years.
What do you do outside of work hours - hobbies, etc.?
It seems like there are fewer of those hours, but I read, go to live music and enjoy sports.