Wake County

Wake County names three finalists for top manager job

The names of the three finalists for the Wake County manager job have been released.

They are:

▪ Barry Burton, who has served as the county administrator for Lake County, Ill., since 2002.

▪ David Ellis, who is currently serving as the interim Wake County manager. He was hired as deputy county manager in Wake in 2015.

▪ Bonnie Hammersley, who has served as the Orange County manager for the last four years.

The public can meet the finalists during an informal meet-and greet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wake County Justice Center in downtown Raleigh.

The county manager is tasked with drafting Wake’s $1.26 billion budget, overseeing county departments, making recommendations to county commissioners and representing the county during community events.

Here’s more about the candidates.

Barry Burton

Burton, 53, said his administration in Illinois has dealt with a rapidly growing county, streamlined economic development and workforce training efforts and worked with the county’s more than 50 cities and towns to address common issues.

Lake County, which encompasses suburbs of Chicago, is smaller than Wake, with a population of 750,000. Wake County is home to more than 1 million people.

“I think I have a strong background on bringing people together around a common issue,” Burton said. “On the growth issue, we have to make sure we look at an economy where everyone benefits, but there are tricks of doing that. And it’s really bringing people together and having a common vision.”

Burton earned a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Kentucky University and a bachelor’s degree in urban administration from the University of Cincinnati. He currently earns a salary of $247,090.

Burton has family living in North Carolina. He said after 16 years at his current job, he felt it was time for a change.

“I’d be able to assist them (Wake) to move the county forward and at the same time, to do something different and learn how they do business,” he said.

David Ellis

Before he came to work in Wake, Ellis served as the assistant city manager in Charlottesville, Va. He previously worked nine years as assistant to the county executive in Fairfax County, Va., where he managed the Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Department of Code Compliance.

Ellis, 50, has more than 20 years of local government experience, according to his candidate biography.

“I think (Wake) is a great place to live and work, and I believe I have the leadership to help move the county forward,” he said, adding that his experience would help him enhance the quality of life for people and businesses in the community.

As deputy manager, Ellis has overseen several departments that provide services to the community, and he said a particular note of accomplishment was bringing the affordable housing plan to the commissioners.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University. Last year, he completed the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.

Ellis earns an annual salary of $197,798 in his current job.

Bonnie Hammersley

Hammersley, 58, has held top management positions in three counties, most recently in Orange County. She said she was looking forward to meeting residents during the forum Thursday.

“It’s a good thing to include the community because this position will be responsible for reaching out to the community to gain their perspective and be more effective,” she said. “This community input is important to inform the Board of Commissioners as they face the challenges and opportunity that face the community.”

In Orange County, Hammersley said she completed an affordable housing strategic plan and negotiated a cost agreement with Durham County for the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail.

“The obvious (challenge in Wake) is growth and sustainability and working closely with the school district to build strong and positive relationships,” she said.

Orange County has a population of more than 140,000.

Hammersley earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Edgewood College in Wisconsin.

She currently earns an annual salary of $190,232.