Finance director named Raleigh’s interim city manager

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMay 23, 2013 

Perry James

— The Raleigh City Council on Thursday named longtime Chief Financial Officer Perry James as its interim city manager to take over from the ousted Russell Allen.

The unanimous vote came after hours of closed-door discussions on the hire and about a month after Allen’s firing. James will begin leading the city on July 1.

“He has an incredibly strong financial background,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. “He knows all the different departments. He’ll be a real consensus builder.”

James said he’s “very honored” to take on the role. He’s been Raleigh’s finance director since 1995 and has worked in the department since 1982. Prior to that, he was an accountant in the private sector.

“For the council to put this trust in me is gratifying,” he said after the announcement.

James will be working with Allen in his final weeks as city manager to ensure a smooth transition. “He’s already reached out to me,” James said.

Allen, who’s been the manager for 12 years, was fired April 17 by a 6-2 vote. Council members have declined to offer specific reasons for the ouster, but have mentioned communication problems and said the city needs “a fresh set of eyes.” Email records have shown that some council members clashed with Allen as they sought a more hands-on role in governing the city.

As CFO, James has worked closely with Allen to prepare the city’s budgets, which have remained balanced through the recession. He has also been tasked with coordinating grants and overseeing public-private financing models.

He wouldn’t say whether he’ll apply to hold the position permanently. “My focus right now is as interim manager,” he said.

McFarlane said the council will meet soon with the city’s human resources staff to discuss what it’s looking for in a new manager. They’ll determine whether to hire a consultant to lead the search. Professors from the UNC School of Government recently told the council the hiring process generally takes up to six months.

James will oversee the city’s day-to-day operations until the new manager takes office.

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter

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