Davidson commissioners are close to naming a replacement for outgoing Town Manager Leamon Brice, who announced in April that he would retire Dec. 31, after a quarter-century as the town’s top administrator.
“We are in the final stages of the effort,” said Davidson Mayor John Woods. “I am hopeful we can have a decision very soon.”
Woods said the original field of 71 applicants has been whittled to “two or three” finalists. The town board has met behind closed doors several times in recent weeks to discuss the search.
Brice, 59, said he announced his retirement early so his last few months on the job could overlap with his replacement’s first months. Woods said he and the town board are on track to meet that timeline.
“Our overall goal has been to have the new manager on the job in October and we are very hopeful that will work,” Woods said.
The town’s advertisements for the town manager position attracted applicants from 25 states.
“The response to the opportunity has been pleasing, a reflection of Davidson’s reputation not just in North Carolina but nationally,” Woods said. “I can only surmise our reputation is based on our willingness and courage to make decisions – and stand by them – with the best interests of the entire community in mind.”
Woods and the town board hired Dallas, Texas-based Waters and Co. Executive Recruitment to assist in the search.
The town’s postings for the manager job did not include a salary range. Brice’s current salary of nearly $135,000 is the lowest among north Mecklenburg’s three municipalities.
In Cornelius, Anthony Roberts earns $140,000 managing a town with a population of nearly 27,000 and an annual budget of almost $20 million. In Huntersville, Greg Ferguson makes $172,000 overseeing a town with more than 51,000 residents and a $55.8 million budget. Davidson’s population is 11,750 and its current annual budget is $9.9 million.
The new manager likely will begin work within a few weeks of the Nov. 3 election, with Woods and the entire five-person town board seeking re-election. However, Woods is unopposed and only one challenger, business consultant Michael Angell, is on the ballot with incumbent commissioners Stacey Anderson, Beth Cashion, Jim Fuller, Rodney Graham and Brian Jenest.
“From a big-picture perspective, it’s a little hard to know what this year’s election season, with only one challenger in the town board race and no opposition in the mayor’s race, really means,” Woods said. “I hope this landscape is an indication of general satisfaction in the midst of many issues.”
Woods added, however, the competitive races are valuable when they compel voters to scrutinize candidates.
“That said, I do not believe Davidson citizens are complacent about the election,” Woods said. “Our citizens do certainly know how important each election is to our community.”
John Deem is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.