Tony Gurley resigned as a Wake County commissioner Friday to take a position in Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration as chief operating officer in the Office of State Budget and Management.
Gurley began the new job Friday, making $124,915 a year. It’s a new position, and Gurley reports directly to state budget director Art Pope.
McCrory’s office announced the move early Friday afternoon, and Wake County issued a news release about Gurley’s resignation from the Board of Commissioners, where he served for 12 years.
“Tony’s experience as a county commissioner, entrepreneur, pharmacist and attorney provides a well-rounded perspective that’s needed to manage a budget of this size and level of complexity,” McCrory said in a release. “His expertise will strengthen our efforts to streamline state government and improve operational efficiency.”
The state budget office has many responsibilities, including preparing the governor’s proposed spending plan for the General Assembly and working with state agencies on their budgets.
Gurley, a 57-year-old Republican from Raleigh, was first elected as a commissioner in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 and 2010. He served three years as board chairman. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2012.
His current term as commissioner was to expire in December, and Gurley had said he didn’t plan to run for re-election. Recent redistricting had drawn his home out of District 3. Gurley said he took part in that decision because he wasn’t going to run again.
Phil Matthews, the board chairman, said he would ask the Wake Republican Party to nominate a candidate to finish Gurley’s term. The full board has to approve the candidate.
Republican Rich Gianni and Democrat Jessica Holmes, both of Cary, filed to run for the District 3 seat during the candidate filing period that ended Friday.
Pope said the chief operating officer position was in the budget for the fiscal year that started last July.
“We didn’t rush to fill it,” he said. “We wanted to save money and wait until we found the right person, and that person was Tony.”
One of Gurley’s focus areas will be the budget for the state Department of Health and Human Services, while Pope will continue to oversee the education and commerce budgets, Pope said. Gurley also will fill in for Pope on boards and commissions.
Gurley’s background includes owning, then selling, pharmacies in Raleigh and Durham. He’s also worked as a consultant helping other pharmacies sell their stores. In the mid-2000s, Gurley worked as an attorney at Gurley & Cookson, which is now Cookson Law. He received a master’s degree in pharmacy administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1981 and a law degree from N.C. Central University in 2003.
Among the county’s accomplishments during his tenure, Gurley cited the passage of school bond initiatives in 2006 and 2013 and the construction of new libraries, EMS stations, a detention center and a justice center for the courts system.
Of his new job, Gurley said simply, “It’s a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to doing it.”