Lee County Manager Dr. John Crumpton, who has been in the position for more than a decade and a half, has decided to retire early.

In a letter to Board of Commissioners Chairman Kirk Smith dated Nov. 9, Crumpton said he plans to retire effective Feb. 28 – ten months before the expiration of his current contract, which he had previously indicated would be his final. Crumpton confirmed Monday that he’d spoken to each member of the Board of Commissioners about his decision.

“It has been an incredible 15 plus years as manager for Lee County,” Crumpton wrote. “I can truly say that I am leaving Lee County Government in a much better position than when I started. The county has an incredible leadership team and dedicated employees at all levels. The next manager will have the luxury of having a group of talented employees who can keep the county moving forward for years to come.”

Crumpton told The Rant he made the decision during a vacation over the summer, but wanted to wait for the 2022 election to take place before announcing it.

“I did not want the discussion of the next county manager to be a partisan one. The county needs a professional local government manager who can work with all sides,” he said. “Having the manager be an election issue is never good. In December a new board will be sworn in and my pending retirement will give the new board the opportunity to choose a new leader of the organization.”

Crumpton said he has mixed feelings about leaving while the county works on so many big projects, but that his successor will inherit a team more than capable of completing them.

“We have assembled a team which works together to generate results. The commissioners have given us the tools we need to be successful and having the right staff in place is how these projects will be completed,” he said. “The Sports Complex and new library are being managed by teams that know what needs to be done. We have developed timelines that will keep these projects moving. With the growth going on in this region and county, major projects will always be going on. If I waited for all of them to be completed, I would never retire.”

He also offered advice for whoever is hired to fill his seat.

“A wise old county manager told me these three things – first, as a local government manager always give your Board professional advice and recommendations based on sound practices. If the board doesn’t accept your advice based on these principles, then do not take it personally,” he said. “Second, don’t get in the habit of giving a board recommendations they do not support. You should realize that their goals are not aligned with yours and you need to understand what their goals are and make recommendations that achieve those goals. If you don’t figure this out you will probably won’t have a job long. Third, a good manager knows when it is time to go. You will know when it is time to either leave or retire. I didn’t completely understand that piece of advice when it was given, but I do now.”