DURHAM — Wendell Davis, Durham County’s next county manager, should hardly have time to catch his breath when he takes office April 14.
The county will be in middle of budget season. And he expects a county property tax revaluation to be coming soon.
But Davis says his nearly 25 years of experience in government work will guide him in his new job in the coming years.
The county commissioners selected Davis, N.C. Central University’s vice chancellor of administration and finance, in a 4-1 vote Monday night.
“This was an amazing leadership opportunity in a community that I love and cherish and pay homage to,” said Davis, who served as deputy county manager from 1999-2011.
Davis, a NCCU graduate, said he returned to Durham 14 years ago because this is where he wanted to raise his two children.
“Durham is very unique place,” Davis said. “Durham is my home.”
Challenges he sees for the county are increasing the high school graduation rate and economic opportunities and decreasing poverty.
Davis notes that the way for the county has been paved by the strategic plan adopted by the commissioners in 2012.
“We’ll be putting a lot of effort into the strategic areas that the board has identified,” Davis said. “We had better than 3,000 citizens who participated in the strategic process, so it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.”
Davis was born in Halifax County, the son of a sharecropper.
He holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and geography from NCCU, a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Southeastern University. He also graduated from the executive leadership program at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.
Davis will make $198,800 a year. Other details of his compensation package were not available at press time.
“We are excited about a returning Durham County employee to come back and serve us as a leader,” said commissioners Chairman Michael Page. “We had some qualified candidates and it was tough to make a choice, but we felt because of his knowledge of the county, we felt like this was the best way for us to go at this time.”
The vote against Davis came from Commissioner Wendy Jacobs, who declined to say why she voted no.
“I am looking forward to going forward to working with the manager and to making him the best manager we’ve ever had,” Jacobs said.
Davis will succeed Mike Ruffin, who retired Jan. 31 after 13 years as county manager and will take the reins in April from interim County Manager Lee Worsley.