Davis hired as new county manager

Feb. 10, 2014 @ 09:49 PM

County Commissioners voted 4-1 on Monday night to make N.C. Central University Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Wendell Davis their government’s next county manager.

Davis will succeed former County Manager Mike Ruffin and take office on April 14. He will make $198,800 a year.

The vote followed a succession of closed-door commissioners meetings in recent weeks, the last occurring on Monday.

“He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to county government,” commissioners Chairman Michael Page said of Davis, who was deputy county manager from 1999 to 2011.

“With how we’re planning to move forward with our strategic plan and other initiatives of county government, we felt he is the most capable candidate to lead us in that direction,” Page said.

The dissenting vote Monday came from Commissioner Wendy Jacobs, who declined afterwards to explain the rationale for it.

“The vote is over. It’s time to move on,” she said.

“I’m going to be looking forward to working with our new county manager and hoping that we can work together to deal with all the issues, pressing issues, that Durham County has,” Jacobs said. “I’m looking forward to working closely with him and making sure we have the best county manager ever.”

Ruffin retired on Jan. 31, ending a 13-year run as head of the county administration.

He was receiving a $205,374 annual salary, plus a $7,200-a-year travel allowance, a $900 annual cell-phone allowance and an 8 percent employer contribution to his 401(k).

Additional details of Davis’ new Durham County contract were not available as of press time Monday.

N.C. Central is paying Davis a $192,280 annual salary, campus spokeswoman Ayana Hernandez said.

Davis as vice chancellor is serving in a post that’s normally the second- or third-most powerful on a UNC system campus, depending on how one rates a particular school’s academic-affairs chief.

He joined the staff at NCCU in the summer of 2011, as a hire of former Chancellor Charlie Nelms.

Nelms retired abruptly a year later, shortly before the start of the 2012-13 academic year. The UNC system hired Chancellor Debra Saunders-White to replace him.

Davis’ 2011 replacement as deputy county manager, Lee Worsley, has served as interim county manager since Ruffin’s departure and will continue in that role until Davis takes over.

Ruffin announced his retirement plans last summer, and the commissioners at that time opted to forgo the usual national search for candidates and instead look in-state for his successor.

Accounts indicate they focused on Ruffin’s top lieutenants, his current or former deputy managers.