It’s not often that an appointment by Carlisle Borough Council elicits a standing ovation from the public in attendance, the borough staff and the council itself.
But that’s what happened when the Carlisle Borough council voted to name Susan Armstrong as its borough manager during Thursday night’s meeting.
“I just feel extremely blessed. And I feel extremely blessed to live here in one of the best communities in this nation as far as I’m concerned,” Armstrong said.
The appointment is effective June 10, which is the Monday after the abrupt resignation of former borough manager Matt Candland. In his letter of resignation Candland said he was leaving to pursue other professional opportunities.
In a news release sent out prior to Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Tim Scott said Armstrong was “by far the best fit for Carlisle” out of the applications the borough received from across the country.
“She brings a great depth of knowledge and experience in municipal management, and there is no one who can better hit the ground running at this critical time in Carlisle’s redevelopment,” he said in the release.
Scott’s comments at the meeting that evening took a more personal tone as he mentioned Armstrong was the second face he saw when he walked into the building following his election to the council in January 2002.
“I feel like we’ve grown up together so I am pleased to support your nomination for borough manager of Carlisle,” he said.
Armstrong has a 30-year career in local government that began when the company she worked for went out of business and its property was purchased by Guilford Township. Her boss thought so highly of her that he put in a good word for her with the township, and Armstrong landed her first job in local government, deputy mayor Sean Shultz said.
Shultz said Armstrong was the borough secretary when he was appointed to the borough council in 2005.
She was the borough manager of Greencastle in Franklin County until rejoining Carlisle. Armstrong has served Carlisle Borough for 14 years over two stints. For seven of those years in Carlisle she served as assistant borough manager, including serving twice as interim borough manager.
“I know we’re going to be in good hands. We’ll continue to get incredibly excellent, thoughtful advice from our borough manager,” Shultz said.
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“She’s a rock star. To have her experience and her leadership, I think we’re all very blessed,” councilman Sean Crampsie said.
Councilwoman Deb Fulham-Winston said she was the only person on the council who had worked with Armstrong as a colleague when she served as the Elm Street program manager for the borough.
“She made my life so much simpler because she knew everything and shared information with me,” she said.
During her career, Armstrong has focused on reducing blight, building greater neighborhood connectivity, and pursuing redevelopment strategies and sound fiscal management. She was the recipient of the 2012 Community Impact Award for Community Development and Housing Initiatives in Cumberland County, the news release said.
Councilwoman Robin Guido said while they were looking at candidates, they asked Armstrong about her passions and ideas for Carlisle. Armstrong told the council that it wasn’t what she wanted but what the borough residents want and what the council says is policy is what will drive her actions.
“It’s not very often that you hear something that true and that humble from somebody you’re about to put in charge,” she said.
Carlisle operates under a Home Rule Charter with a “Council-Manager” form of government. Under this form, the Borough Council appoints a full-time professional municipal manager to oversee the day-to-day operations of the borough and provide advice to the council.
In the news release, Armstrong thanked the council for the confidence they placed in her abilities. She said she looked forward to working with the council, staff and community to address quality of life issues and to advance the borough’s overall objectives.
“Special thanks to those who throughout the years have supported me, professionally and personally. I could not have reached this milestone without your support,” Armstrong said in the news release.
Armstrong complimented the staff, saying that they make her job easier and gesturing toward them as she addressed the council at the close of the meeting.
“I promise you we will continue to do our best to serve the public and to maintain the confidence that you have placed in us,” she said.