Worsley named interim county manager
Deputy County Manager Lee Worsley will act as the county government's top executive until elected officials hire and bring on board a permanent successor for retiring County Manager Mike Ruffin.
County Commissioners settled on the interim appointment Monday night, approving it on a 3-1 vote over the dissent of Commissioner Fred Foster. Commissioners Chairman Michael Page was absent.
The move comes as the commissioners continue to work behind closed doors to select a permanent replacement for Ruffin, who is retiring Friday.
Multiple accounts indicate the leading candidate is Wendell Davis, a former deputy manager to Ruffin who since 2011 has been the vice chancellor for administration and finance at N.C. Central University.
The commissioners' vice chairwoman, Commissioner Brenda Howerton, said Tuesday the board "hasn't fully completed its decision-making process" and also is guarding against the possibility the eventual hire will have to give extended notice to a current employer.
"We have to respect the other employer, no matter who it is," she said. "You don't just leave; you have to give a notice."
Worsley has been a deputy manager since 2011, when Ruffin hired him to replace Davis.
The other deputy, Marqueta Welton, also took office in 2011. Ruffin promoted her from human resources director after former Deputy County Manager Carolyn Titus retired.
Worsley served as county manager in Greene County from 2002 to 2005, and came to Durham after a six-year stint as assistant county manager in Catawba County.
Greene County is a largely rural community in eastern North Carolina. Catawba County is in the western part of the state and is anchored by the city of Hickory.
Worsley will be interim manager from Ruffin's retirement "until we get the other person in place," Howerton said.
That's made him among other things the county's point man in dealings with Durham's volunteer fire departments. Officials are in the midst of appointing a trustee to monitor the business affairs of one of the departments, Parkwood, that's run into apparent cash-flow problems.
They last year also took over the Bethesda fire department, at the request of department leaders after it ran into financial problems.
Welton oversees administrative and human-services departments like the Department of Social Services. She also is the county's point person in arranging business-incentive deals with companies seeking to locate or expand here.