Seventeen months after being fired by the Town of Smithfield, former Town Manager Paul Sabiston has been hired as the new town manager in Aberdeen.
Sabiston began work on January 3rd in Aberdeen, in southeastern Moore County. The city is experiencing tremendous growth, with the population doubling since the 2000 census.
Sabiston replaces former manager Bill Zell who retired on January 1st. Town officials said Sabiston was the best candidate for the job.
Sabiston was hired by the Town of Smithfield in April 2012 following a pay raise scandal that led to the firing of former manager Eric Williams. In August 2015, in a 4-to-3 vote, Sabiston was fired. Officials said at the time there was no single reason they terminated his employment.
On Wednesday, Sabiston told WTSB News he hopes to become very active in the Moore County community. “We hope to be just as active in Aberdeen as we were in Smithfield. My family very much enjoyed the welcoming community in Smithfield and my children had extremely positive experiences at South Smithfield Elementary, Smithfield Middle, and Smithfield Selma High School. Certainly it takes time to get involved and the activities of our children sometimes dictate where and how you spend your time. Getting involved is one of the most enjoyable parts of coming to a new community.”
He said he will miss living in Smithfield. “I definitely will miss the people and the Smithfield community in general. The people I dealt with were always respectful and kind even if we did not always agree. The SRAC (Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center) is a huge quality of life factor for the area, sometimes underappreciated, and its staff from top to bottom does a tremendous job.”
Asked what attracted him to Aberdeen he said in an email, “It would have to be the great amenities and schools of both Aberdeen and the surrounding communities of Southern Pines and Pinehurst. Also, both the staff in Aberdeen and the elected officials work great individually and as a team which is very important to me. The mutual respect between the elected officials and the staff is refreshing.”
He added Aberdeen has similar challenges like the Town of Smithfield. “Probably the biggest similarity is trying to invigorate the historic downtowns to attract new businesses and restaurants. Supporting the growth of an existing industrial corridor also is a common goal. Aberdeen is fortunate to have a growing residential population and a healthy commercial district.”
Sabiston, a native of Marietta, Georgia had been the interim town manager of Boiling Spring Lakes in Brunswick County before being hired in Smithfield in 2012. He has previously served as a city manager in Roanoke Rapids and Shallotte. He was also the city administrator for Mexico Beach, Florida. He served two terms on the city council in Marietta, Georgia from 1994 to 2001. He also worked in private law practice in Georgia from 1991 to 2001 and served as an associate attorney from 1988 to 1991.
Sabiston graduated from Walter George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in 1988 and is a member of the Georgia State Bar. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English with a minor in Spanish in 1985 from Wake Forest University.
He and his wife, Kelli, have two children, Natalie and Eric.