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Clayton's New City Manager

Meet Experienced and Ready-To-Go David Gipson

David Gipson steps up to the plate as Clayton’s new city manager on Feb. 3.

He enthusiastically describes Clayton as “unique, livable and innovative.” As city manager, he will lead a professional staff of nearly 400 full- and part-time employees, all working to provide public services for Clayton’s 16,000 residents and daytime population of 47,000.

“Clayton is economically viable, the downtown area is vibrant and the community offers a high quality of life for its residents,” David proclaims.

He has substantial experience in public service and professional city management, serving since 2016 as city administrator for Wentzville, Missouri. There he led a full- and part-time staff of nearly 500 employees.

Prior to his work with Wentzville, he served as assistant city manager for Richmond Heights and other positions in the city of St. Charles.

Clayton officials initiated a national executive search in mid-2019 to identify a new city manager. After receiving numerous applications, board members reviewed applications and performed several interviews before selecting David. They stated that his prior experience as a professional city planner made him a stand-out candidate, as that knowledge will benefit the city's upcoming comprehensive planning process.

“As a new mayor, I’m looking forward to working with David as our new city manager,” says Mayor Michelle Harris. “Together with the board of aldermen, our outstanding staff and the people of Clayton, David will help lead us into a new decade. With this critical leadership role in place, we can continue the work of creating the community we want for the future.”

David is a Missouri native, having grown up in St. Peters and graduated from Fort Zumwalt South High School. “I’m very familiar with Clayton and the Mid-County (St. Louis) area from working for the City of Richmond Heights and living in Glendale prior to taking a position with the City of Wentzville,” he says.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in planning from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in public policy administration at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

"I’m honored that the mayor and board of aldermen have entrusted me to serve as Clayton’s next city manager,” David says. “Clayton is a unique community with engaged residents, flourishing neighborhoods, a thriving business sector and a substantial public sector as the seat of St. Louis county government. I look forward to joining the community and working with the city’s elected officials, management team and staff to deliver high quality services."

David says he and his family plan to establish residency in Clayton by the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. He has three children who will attend schools in the Clayton School District.

“I have long been intrigued by Clayton. It's unique in that it contains office towers, multi-story residential buildings, top-ranked institutions, major transportation corridors and beautiful, historic neighborhoods within a 2.5 square mile area. The municipal government in Clayton has developed a strong reputation in the region for its innovative service delivery and data-driven decision making,” he explains.

“It’s exciting to be a part of everything Clayton has going on.”

Regarding priorities in David’s new role, he says the city has a couple of key positions that need to be permanently filled, the newly created Community Equity Commission will need to gain traction and realize some early successes, and the comprehensive planning process will commence in early 2020.

“Of course, one of my top priorities for the first year is to establish relationships with city staff, the elected officials, residents and corporate citizens,” he adds.

Regarding construction in Clayton, he says the amount of ongoing construction and continued interest in further development demonstrates that Clayton remains the premier location for business and urban living in the region, and also ensures its long-term viability. “At the same time, there are 16,000 residents impacted by development activity and it’s important to find a balance between growth and the quality of life of citizens and existing businesses. The upcoming comprehensive planning process will provide an opportunity for the community to have that conversation,” he says.

He says he believes the most challenging components about managing Clayton's activities could be establishing a balance between development and quality of life will likely present a challenge at times. However, the biggest challenge facing Clayton is the same challenge every other municipality in Missouri is experiencing, which is flattening revenue and ever-increasing expenditures. It is critical that we find ways to protect and maintain our revenue streams, while enhancing operational efficiency within the organization to maintain the high level of service that our residents have come to expect. 

David’s long-range objectives focus on the future comprehensive planning process, which will create a long-term vision for land use in the community. “Formulating a plan for the long-term financial health of the city will be another key objective,” he adds.

When he’s not at City Hall, David’s also an adjunct instructor at the University of Missouri -- St. Louis where he teaches graduate level city administration and urban management courses.

  • Photo by David A. Charles