GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Reaction poured in Tuesday after Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas announced he was stepping down as mayor to become the director of the Global TransPark.
Thomas was first elected mayor back in 2011.
Council members said they weren’t necessarily surprised, but did wish Thomas the best. Councilman P.J. Connelly had butted heads with Thomas during budget negotiations in 2016, but said both men had the same end goal.
“We’ve always had our times where we were a little heated in the discussions but we’ve always found ways that we can get together. The key was making the city a better place,” Connelly said.
Councilman Calvin Mercer is the second longest serving member on the city council. He said as mayor, Thomas has had a lot of success.
“He has attempted to work with state officials, regional officials, and we have been successful at those partnerships,” Mercer said.
Thomas faced a lot of obstacles as mayor, including overseeing contentious budget meetings in 2016 and steering the city through devastating floods following Hurricane Matthew in the Fall.
But through it all, he has remained a visible member in the community. He has also has helped those who needed it, including Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman.
“His promise to me was that he would help me just make the transition into Greenville and into North Carolina and he certainly was a good friend to me personally, and introducing me to the right people in the community and making sure I got off to the right start,” Holtzman said.
Under Thomas’s leadership, Greenville has continued to grow at a rapid pace. More money is being pumped into fixing area roadways, and the 10th St. Connector and Southwest Bypass projects are now well underway.
On top of that, Thomas has been a strong advocate for local businesses. In Uptown Greenville, hundreds of millions of dollars is being invested, leading to numerous construction projects.
The attention paid to the economy has led some new shops, like Uptown Brewing Company, to open up.
“He’s been a great advocate for small businesses and I think he’s one of the big reasons why you’ve seen this commercial growth in the northern side of town,” said Ben Self.
Thomas has also been a strong advocate of East Carolina University.
In a statement, Heath Bowman, President of the ECU Alumni Association said:
“The ECU Alumni Association wishes Mayor Thomas the best of luck in his new leadership role with North Carolina Global Transpark. During his tenure as the leader of our city, Allen has been a true champion and advocate for ECU and his fellow Pirates. I know that Allen will continue to be a loyal and supportive alumnus of our university and we are proud to count him among the more than 170,000 alumni who serve their communities in the spirit of ‘Servire’ each and every day.”