Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Search for Raleigh's new city manager could take 4 to 6 months

Staff writersMay 10, 2013 

The search for a new city manager will likely be a complicated process that takes up to six months, UNC-Chapel Hill government professors told the Raleigh City Council this week.

A meeting with two experts from the UNC School of Government on Tuesday kicked off the search, three weeks after the council voted 6-2 to fire Russell Allen, who has served in the post for 12 years. With the exception of Councilman John Odom, who served when Allen was appointed in 2001, the process is a new one for current council members.

“It takes four months to six months,” said Carl Stenberg, who specializes in public administration. “A lot kind of depends on the candidate pool and the process you adopt to work through that candidate pool.

“You’ll need to make some decisions regarding an interim manager.”

That’s the first step, and one that needs to happen within 30 days, Stenberg told the council, because Allen’s last day is June 30.

The council hasn’t yet decided whether finalists’ names will be made public, as was the case when the city sought a new police chief earlier this year. In that search, the top candidates came to Raleigh for a public forum before the hire was made.

“Oftentimes managers are nervous about their name appearing in the newspaper as a finalist for a position, especially if they’re gainfully employed,” Stenberg said. “You may lose candidates if it’s an open search, but it is a trade-off. ... I think a lot of it depends on what the community expects.”

Interviews for schools chief

Wake County school board members will spend a lot of time in hotels next week, but it’s for official purposes.

The school board will meet Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at the Embassy Suites on Arco Corporate Drive in Raleigh to privately interview the four semifinalists for the superintendent’s position. The hotel’s location near Raleigh-Durham International Airport means it’s convenient for candidates who are flying in from out of town.

The location also will allow the board to keep the media away from the semifinalists, whose names are being kept secret.

Once the list is narrowed to two or three finalists, the need for secrecy will be eliminated. The finalists will be publicly announced and return to the area to meet with the public before the board does more interviews and holds a final vote.

Fight over war dollars

Peace activists have asked Orange County to join a growing list of cities and counties petitioning the federal government to bring war dollars home.

Hank Elkins, speaking on behalf of the Orange County Peace Coalition, told the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that $480 million in local taxpayer dollars has been spent on the “misbegotten adventures” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The federal government could cut excessive spending from Pentagon programs, such as overseas bases and F-35 jet production, without affecting national security, Elkins said. It is time to re-examine the nation’s spending priorities, he added.

“As commissioners, there is no group who knows better than you what our county needs. You know that we need money for education, you know that we do need money for affordable housing, for infrastructure and for health,” Elkins said. “You also know that investments in these programs will create jobs in Orange County, and that an educated and a healthy population is an investment in real security.”

Raleigh, Burlington, Durham and Carrboro, along with Durham County, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and cities in 14 other states, have signed similar resolutions.

Political Trails

• NC WARN, tackling the accelerated crisis posed by climate change, will present a program at the meeting of Wake County Senior Democrats on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel on Glenwood Avenue. A dutch lunch will begin at 11 a.m. with the program to follow. The meeting is open to the public.

• Major Dave Goetze of Franklin County, candidate for vice chairman of the state Republican Party, will be the guest speaker at the May meeting of the Harnett Republican Men’s Club on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Room 149 of the Lundy Fetterman School of Business at Campbell University in Buies Creek. For more information, contact Joey Powell at 910-892-0201.

• Jack Brosch and Claude Pope, candidates for chairman of the state Republican Party, will speak to the Wake County Republican Women’s Club on Thursday at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. Social begins at 11:30 a.m. with the lunch/program following at 11:45 a.m. Information: www.wakerepublicanwomen.org. Make reservations by emailing 1wcrwc@gmail.com. by Monday.

Staff writers Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Tammy Grubb.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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