Adam Lenhard resigns as St. George city manager

Adam Lenhard was hired to replace Gary Esplin, who retired after 41 years as St. George’s city manager.

(City of St. George) Adam Lenhard is resigning as St. George city manager.

St. George • Citing his desire to pursue other opportunities, St. George City Manager Adam Lenhard announced this week that he is resigning, effective Nov. 1.

Lenhard, who holds a bachelor’s in land-use planning and a master of public administration degree from Brigham Young University, previously served seven years as city manager of Clearfield in northern Utah. In February 2018, he was hired to replace Gary Esplin, who retired after 41 years as St. George’s city manager.

Mayor Michele Randall was on the City Council when Lenhard was interviewed for the job.

“I’ve had a fantastic experience,” Lenhard told The Tribune Tuesday. “I’ve been very fortunate to work for two great mayors in Jon Pike and now Michele Randall and have appreciated their leadership. I’ve also been very fortunate to work with an incredible staff of really good and talented people.”

“He was everyone on the council’s number one pick from the time we started interviewing,” Randall said. “He has amazing leadership skills, and he has really put the employees first and let them know that they’re the ones that make this city an amazing place to live.”

Replacing Esplin was a tall order, St. George City Councilman Jimmie Hughes said, but Lenhard proved up to the challenge.

“He had some really big shoes to fill,” Hughes said. “But he came in and did some great things, and he has been very gung ho and active in the community.”

Under the direction of Randall and former Mayor Pike — as well as members of the City Council — Lenhard has helped steer the municipal ship of state through a time of unprecedented growth.

Between July 2020 and July 2021, for example, St. George area had the highest growth by percentage of any metro area in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That growth has put considerable strain on the city to keep pace by providing more infrastructure and public safety.

Despite the strain, Lenhard said it has been gratifying to work with elected leaders to increase the size of the Police Department by about 25% and the Fire Department by nearly 70% during his time as city manager. Last month, the council members approved the 2023 fiscal year budget that included roughly $1.05 million to hire an additional eight police officers, six dispatcher workers and 12 firefighters.

Another highlight for Lenhard came last December when the City Council voted to approve a 20-year agreement between the city and Tech Ridge LLC to develop a mixed-use technology park on 180 acres on the site of the old airport that will include shops, offices and residential space.

“That’s a huge project that is on track to create a lot of high-tech and family-sustaining jobs for our community,” Lenhard said. “It is a very significant development, and I’m glad I was able to … see that get approved.”

That said, Lenhard added, those are team successes. “I don’t want to take credit for things that we’ve done [together as a city].”

Lenhard isn’t ready yet to publicly divulge what job opportunity he will be pursuing until the details are firmed up. Randall said the city will conduct a nationwide search to find his replacement, which could take a few months. In the meantime, the council will probably appoint someone as acting city manager until a permanent replacement is found.

“He will be dearly missed,” Randall said about Lenhard.