Larry Hanson will retire from the City of Valdosta, effective Dec. 8 after 42 years of public service, 22 of which he served as the Valdosta City Manager. Hanson will assume his new role as the Georgia Municipal Association Executive Director, where he will oversee the advocacy, training and various programs for more than 500 Georgia cities.
Hanson is the 10th and longest-serving city manager for the City of Valdosta, where he oversees 10 departments, 600 employees, and a $95 million budget. In 1958, the citizens of Valdosta voted to establish a Council-Manager form of government which established the governing authority with policy-making responsibility and the professional manager, who is hired by the Mayor and Council, with the day to day management of the city.
“In my 29-year career as a Valdosta City Councilmember, there have been three significant things that have happened that have contributed to the success of our community—the passing of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), the election of Mayor Jimmy Rainwater and appointment of City Manager Larry Hanson,” said Valdosta City Councilman Joseph “Sonny” Vickers, a member of the council that appointed Hanson in 1995. “SPLOST gave us the financial resources to fund much-needed projects in our city, Mayor Rainwater successfully led our council through significant years of growth, and Larry has had the vision and management skills to bring people together to accomplish the work of the city. Larry successfully took the plans we developed each year at council retreats, and he implemented those plans for the benefit of our citizens and community. Larry will be sorely missed.”
In addition to serving on the home front, Hanson has represented Valdosta and the region at the state and national levels. In 2014, he was appointed by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to the Department of Community Affairs Board At-Large seat for a five-year term. Within three years, he was appointed Chairman of the Housing Committee, Secretary and Vice-Chairman, with planned progression to the DCA Chair position in 2018. Larry serves on the GMA Board of Directors, the GMA Legislative Policy Council, and is a previous Chairman of the Georgia Municipal Association’s Revenue and Finance Committee. Larry is also a past-president of the Georgia City-County Manager’s Association (GCCMA).
“Larry’s dedication to the City of Valdosta and his impartial treatment of all citizens is unsurpassable. Valdosta will not be the same without him,” said Mayor John Gayle, who has served with Hanson for the past six years. “Larry’s professional partnerships at the local, state and national levels is a key factor in Valdosta’s growth and success, and I have been amazed at how many people from all over the state consult Larry due to the depth of his experience and knowledge on the issues impacting Georgia and its cities. While serving alongside him on the GMA Board of Directors for the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand how valuable Larry is to our state and how worthy he is of this GMA appointment. Valdosta wishes him the very best.”
Hanson’s interest in meeting the needs for broadband service earned him a 2017 appointment to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), where he recommends policy for national broadband deployment. Prior to that, he served on the FCC Model Code for Municipalities working group, one of five working groups that assists the BDAC in carrying out its mission.
“The bulk of my life in public service has been intertwined with Larry’s as City Manager, and I have always counted on Larry as a trusted advisor – regardless of the issue,” said Tim Golden, who spent 24 years in the Georgia General Assembly and is now in his third year on the Georgia Department of Transportation Board. “Larry and I have worked together so often on so many issues, including several challenges that only served to make Valdosta and our state stronger. I have the utmost respect for Larry’s commitment, passion and loyalty. While I have mixed emotions about Larry leaving Valdosta, I know he will continue to serve our community in this new role at GMA. They are truly getting one of our finest, and he will be a great leader for GMA, as he has been for us.”
The son of a U.S. Air Force veteran, Hanson’s respect and appreciation for the Armed Forces provided various service opportunities to assist Moody AFB and base/community relations. He was appointed to Senator David Perdue's Strategic Military Advisory Group, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Military Advisory Committee, and was appointed by the U.S. Air Force to the Air Combat Command Commander’s Group. Over the years, he assisted W. Parker Greene of the Moody Support Committee in various supportive roles, including approximately 20 visits to the Pentagon. He has served as an Honorary Squadron Commander for Moody AFB and is a charter member of the White Knuckle Squadron, a group of local leaders who have flown in Moody AFB aircraft with flights for Hanson that included both the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the T-38.
Giving back to the community is important to Larry. Among a long list of community organizations he supports are the VSU Alumni board where he will soon become President for a one year term. He has served with United Way for his entire career and in 2003 as the Campaign Chairman, he led the effort that raised over $1.3 million for local charities, still a record amount.
Throughout his career, Larry received numerous awards for his leadership and public service, such as the 2003 Outstanding Public Official Award, 2004 Carl Vinson Institute of Government/Georgia Trend Magazine Excellence in Public Service Award, 2010 Georgia City/County Management Association Pillar of Professional Management Award, 2011 GMA Hall of Fame, and Georgia Trend Magazine’s 2017 Notable Georgians.
Hanson will wrap up his career at the City of Valdosta on Dec. 8 after approximately 536 Mayor and Council meetings and 268 work sessions, of which he has had a 99 percent attendance rate, in addition to a long and impressive track record of success.
“Serving as the City Manager has been the most rewarding experiences of my life. The opportunity to be part of the Valdosta team and serve elected officials, employees, and citizens has been a privilege I will always cherish,” said Hanson. “This city will achieve even greater success in the future because of the citizens we serve and the dedicated public servants who provide exceptional service each and every day.”
The Valdosta Mayor and City Council will discuss the transition plan at the November City Council meeting.
View GMA news release.