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Charlotte city manager finalists meet the public

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  • Who are the finalists?

    After receiving 60 applicants for city manager, the city this week named three men as finalists.

    Ron Carlee

    • Age: 59

    • Current job: chief operating officer, International City/County Management Association since 2009. Adjunct professor, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University.

    • Past experience: County manager, Arlington, Va., 2001-09. Previously served as budget analyst, parks and recreation and human services director. (Va.)

    Ruffin Hall

    •  Age: 43

    •  Current job: Charlotte assistant city manager, since 2012.

    • Past experience: Charlotte budget director, 2002-12. Before joining the city, he was a senior budget analyst in Durham, an assistant to the town manager of Chapel Hill and management auditor with the city of Wilmington.

    Ron Kimble

    • Age: 59

    •  Current job: Charlotte deputy city manager since 2007.

    •  Past experience: Charlotte assistant city manager, 2000-07. City manager in Greenville from 1990 to 2000, and earlier served there assistant city manager and finance director. He is a past assistant finance director for Galesburg, Ill.



The Charlotte City Council and Mayor Anthony Foxx met in closed session for over three hours Wednesday night, trying to pick a new city manager.

After the meeting broke up at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, spokesperson Kim McMillan said the city had no news to announce. It was unclear whether they had made a decision.

The city’s elected officials were trying to decide between three finalists: Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, Assistant City Manager Ruffin Hall, or Ron Carlee, a former manager of Arlington County, Va.

At the start of the search process, Foxx said he wanted the city to consider an outside candidate. Carlee reportedly impressed a number of council members during interviews earlier this week.

But some members also said they believed the two internal candidates were strong.

Since June, the City Council has been sharply divided after council members and Foxx failed to pass a capital improvement plan. Over the last several months there have been a number of 6-5 votes.

The mayor usually doesn’t vote with council members, though Foxx is allowed to vote on hiring a new manager. With Foxx and 11 council members voting, a 6-6 tie was a possibility.

Earlier Wednesday, the three finalists met with about 50 residents and city officials during a forum at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center.

In all, 60 people applied for the manager post, including five who were interviewed, according to a city spokeswoman.

The city has been searching for a new city manager since Curt Walton announced his retirement late last year. Walton, who had worked for Charlotte for 27 years, had been its top executive since 2007.

Julie Burch, an assistant city manager, has served as interim city manager since mid-December but was not a candidate for the permanent job.

The city manager oversees daily operations in the city, which provides services such as police and fire, transit and garbage pick-up, and also has departments in areas like planning and economic development.

After an hourlong reception and introduction by the mayor, the candidates moved upstairs where they took questions from the public.

Carlee, 59, spoke of his nearly three-decade career with the county government in Arlington, Va., including the eight years he spent as manager. Arlington has a combined city and county government, which Carlee said makes him familiar with some of what he could face in Charlotte.

He said Charlotte is a place where “the basic fabric ... is strong” and said he met people over the weekend who said they loved to live here.

When asked about future priorities for the city, he said leaders will need to be strategic and deliberative in deciding what types of initiatives to pursue.

“We’re in a position where we can do anything we want,” Carlee said. “But we cannot do everything we want.”

Hall, 43, has worked for the city of Charlotte since 2001, and was its budget and evaluation director for a decade. He became an assistant city manager last year, with duties that include transit, engineering and property management. Hall said Charlotte has a lot of momentum after the Democratic National Convention. He said he believes his past experience with the city could be an asset, but feels he also could bring new ideas.

Kimble, 59, has served as the city’s No. 2 official for the past five years.

As deputy city manager, he has been in charge of large economic development projects, such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the art museums that surround the Duke Energy Tower on South Tryon Street.

More recently, he has been the city’s point person in negotiations with the Carolina Panthers over a proposed contribution to renovate Bank of America Stadium.

Kimble also was a finalist for the city manager job in 2007.

Kimble fielded questions about how to get the 2030 transit plan on track, as well as efforts to work with other governments in and around Mecklenburg. Kimble stressed the importance of building relationships with leaders in other areas, which could help later in discussions on issues like the environment and transit.

“Regionalism is key,” Kimble said. “We are not just Charlotte, we are not just Mecklenburg County. We are a region of 1.7 million people” and growing.

In advertising for the manager post, the city said an ideal candidate would have a track record as a senior executive in an urban city or county similar to Charlotte. The candidate profile said management experience in the private sector wasn’t required, but would be considered positive.

Foxx has said he wanted the city’s consultant to let candidates know that he and City Council were seriously considering hiring an outside candidate. Walton and his predecessor, Pam Syfert, both were hired from within.

Louise Woods of Coventry Woods, in east Charlotte, said she believed each candidate “had done a lot of thinking about the city.” She said Carlee was effective in discussing the need to improve “economically isolated areas of the city.”

Observer researcher Maria David contributed.

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