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A Conversation With Greg Pridgeon
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Education: North Carolina A&T State University, Bachelor's degree in political science and studied urban planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).
Family: Jeannen, wife of 31 years, son Greg II, 29, and daughter-in-law Keri, son Gabriel, 72, daughter Sterling Christine, 23, German Shepherd Shatzi
Enjoys in his spare time: Flying kites, local collegiate and professional sports, used to play woodwinds

What was it about here versus other places that seemed appealing?

I knew that I wanted to retire from the city of Atlanta. As I looked around the country, around the world, around private sector, there were a number of interesting options available to me. But I knew I always wanted to keep the Atlanta area as my base.

I’ve been living here since 1976. I’ve raised my family here. I have deep roots in the metropolitan area. As I found opportunities in the Atlanta metro area, some of those were appealing and other weren’t for one reason or another. But Rockdale has been special to me since the days I spent here leading up to and during the days of the 1996 summer games. I found the people to be warm, I found the proximity to Atlanta to be very enticing. With the world’s busiest airport only 30 minutes away, this proximity will be attractive to people around the world to come to live, to create businesses.

No organization is perfect. You will have issues. No human being is perfect. Jesus Christ, Buddha, the Pope, every human being has flaws. So I don’t expect everything to be perfect all the time. It’s how you manage during the time of difficulty and how you make choices that are to the benefit to the stakeholders.

There will controversy. There will be accolades. I think somewhere in the middle is where most people sit. They’re not all over the top upset. They’re not going to give you glory for the small things that you do. They expect you to give a good day’s work for the pay that you receive.

Resources are scarce. The economy is tough and I think that my years of being in difficult and tough situations will give me a chance to help.

I think I am relatively easy person to approach. I am reasoned on my responses and I try not to speak off the cuff unless I know the answer. I try to be respectful of all people. My desire is to give good quality service and responses. You will find me to be an ethical person in both my personal and professional life. You will find me to be persistent about resolving problems, but I also know my limitations and that I cannot resolve all problems.

I am a stickler for process. I want to know what the law says and I want to know what the process is for resolving a problem. For those professionals that are my partners, I want to use their expertise and require them to be professional and creative in their thoughts.

Sometimes you work in the gray. It’s not always black and white, but you can interpret what the mothers and fathers who created the process and laws meant. I don’t believe in continuing a misinterpretation. And I don’t believe in looking the other way when there is something that is wrong that needs to be corrected.  I don’t think it is necessary to correct it in a gruff and unprofessional way, but I think to run away from it is disrespectful to the tax payers.

I am really looking forward to getting to know more about the commissioners and the process. It has been a challenge because the commissioners are not allowed to have very much conversation with each other and I have to serve as liaison to have the smallest of conversations. I think it stifles the county not to have some level of conversation more regularly, but I’m not challenging the state law. So I am having to try and find my way to help them communicate without violating an laws. That’s a new challenge.

You’ve worked in many different administrations and with many strong and opinionated personalities. What have you learned from working with all these groups?

Honesty. Respect. A willingness to hear and be quick to respond. Knowledge of process. Willing to be innovative in your approach. Try to learn the individuals; their likes and dislike and their process.

I believe that you have to try and find the priorities of those individuals and how you can help them to deliver on those priorities. They have to know that you know what you are doing in anticipation of what they want. The more tests you pass, they more they are willing to let you work without them having to tell you.

It’s like Scotty Pippin and Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. As they go down the court on a fast break, they don’t have to say anything to know what they other needs to do. After they worked together for such a long time, it’s an eye movement. It’s a comfort level. I’m the Scotty Pippin in that equation and you have to get comfortable with your Michael Jordan. You have to learn the strengths and priorities of those that you are working for.