Town leaders announced Wednesday afternoon the hiring of Bill Summers as Knightdale’s new town manager.
Summers, 44, has served as manager for Lillington, the Harnett County seat with a population of about 4,000, since September, 2011.
He is expected to begin his new role in Knightdale in mid-February with a starting salary of $127,500.
Mayor James Roberson confirmed a candidate had accepted an offer by the town following a closed session Tuesday night. Summers attended the meeting but left before Roberson’s statement, and the Town Council opted to give Summers time to break the news to his staff in Lillington before making his name public.
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Summers on Wednesday said ties to the Wake County area and the challenge of helping Knightdale grow, while preserving quality of life and the town’s historical character, appealed to him.
“We all want amenities, but you also have to have mechanisms in place to control that,” Summers said. “We have to remember significant impacts come with (growth). That’s a great attract(ion) to me. I want to be a part of making those decisions.”
Knightdale’s town manager post had been vacant since June, when Seth Lawless suddenly resigned. Lawless’ final salary was $117,293.
Councilman Randy Young said the in-house manager search began with a field of 79 applicants that was narrowed to four top candidates.
“We offered them (the chance) to come in and do face-to-face interviews in an assessment center,” said Councilman Dustin Tripp, who was part of the search committee. “One candidate was head and shoulders above the rest, and that was William Summers.”
Councilman Pete Mangum said Summers’ experience in developmental planning was a strong selling point.
Summers orchestrated updates to several of Lillington’s long-term plans and policies during his time there, and had started guiding the town to a new unified development ordinance and transportation plan.
Background was a big plus
“He’s got a planning background and has overseen some significant projects, and that’s a really big benefit for us because we’ve got some things coming up in our near future,” Mangum said.
Summers believes his most notable accomplishment in Lillington is simply managerial stability. He is also proud of two major projects taking shape in Lillington – a park along the Cape Fear River that has been a longtime vision for the town and a new government complex.
The new job will mark a return to the Triangle region for Summers. Prior to his work in Lillington, he was town manager for Kenly, a senior planner for Wake Forest, a human resources planner for Wake County and a transportation planner for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization in Raleigh.
“He is a very accomplished person and really sets up well to be a good hire for us, having a background at CAMPO,” Mangum said. “One of the biggest selling features, he was in the planning department when Wake Forest experienced a big boom. I think he’ll help us manage that growth that comes in a responsible way.”
Summers said Knightdale’s current growth situation is similar to what he experienced during his time in Wake Forest.
“The majority of my professional experience is in high-growth environments,” he said. “Knightdale is a really good opportunity and a very nice town. It’s very humbling, quite frankly.”
Summers holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and master’s in public administration from N.C. State University, and is a graduate of the Municipal Administration Program and Public Executive Leadership Academy at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.
He also has managerial credentials from the International City/County Management Association.
Summers plans to move to Knightdale with his wife Julie and their two sons within the next year.