Asheville Assistant City Manager Richard White leaving for Carrboro

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ASHEVILLE – Deputy City Manager Richard White will be stepping down after just two years to become Carrboro City Manager, leaving his hometown and suffering a pay cut.

White, 54, will quit his job in Asheville on Aug. 11, starting Aug. 23 in the small town near Chapel Hill known for its progressive politics, craft galleries and organic grocery stores, according to Asheville and Carrboro officials. . He worked in the Carrboro government from 2000 to 2006 as a deputy city manager.

In addition to being a primary support staff member of Asheville City Director Debra Campbell, White served as Acting Director of a Revolutionary City Equity Department for nearly a year since former manager Kimberlee Archie left, claiming Campbell’s lack of support. The office – formed to eradicate institutional racism – steadily lost employees until it was left on July 9 without permanent staff.

It is not clear whether Campbell, Asheville’s first black city manager, will hire a permanent equity manager before White leaves. Campbell has publicly stated his support for the office on several occasions, calling it “crucial.” On June 30, she said she hoped to announce the new hire in the “next few weeks.” On July 19, she declined to say if it would be before August 11.

Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell addresses City Council on June 22, 2021.

White now earns $ 177,325, according to a city database. He will earn $ 150,000 or $ 27,325 less to run municipal operations in Carrboro, according to city spokeswoman Catherine Lazorko.

White did not return the July 19 messages seeking comment.

“I enjoyed my time in my hometown of Asheville and the many opportunities to reconnect with the community here,” he said in a statement sent by city spokesperson Polly McDaniel. “I look forward to the opportunity to serve the residents of Carrboro as City Manager. “

With 21,000 residents, Carrboro is about a quarter the size of Asheville, which has an estimated population of nearly 93,000. Its economy is linked to nearby universities and the state’s Research Triangle Park, a high-tech business center. Carrboro has a median household income of $ 58,702 compared to Asheville’s $ 49,930, according to census figures.

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A graduate of Asheville High, White attended Chapel Hill as part of the prestigious Morehead Scholar program, according to biographies provided by Asheville and Carrboro officials. He was also a North Carolina Fellow and received his Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University as a Housing and Urban Development Fellow.

After Carrboro, White served as Deputy Director of Administrative and Community Services for Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, from 2006 to 2012. He oversaw the fire department, planning, finance, human resources and d ‘other services, including management of the US $ 14 million recovery and reinvestment program.

As Elon City Manager from 2014 to 2019, he helped transition from a volunteer-run fire department to a city-run combined service, earned Elon an NC Main Street designation, a developed a strategic plan framework and managed the development of a comprehensive land use plan.

He was hired for the Asheville position on July 29, 2019, saying it was a special privilege to “contribute to the well-being of my own hometown”.

Over the two years he received a raise, a 2.5% increase that was part of a city-wide salary adjustment on July 1, raising his salary from $ 173,000 to 177,325. $.

The Asheville Equity Office was formed by former city manager Gary Jackson with the goal of reforming the city’s operations and reducing racial disparities in opportunity and income within and outside government. municipal.

After city council passed its landmark July 14, 2020 reparations initiative, the office was asked to help lead the effort, but Archie resigned in August, saying she faced hostility from chiefs. some of the city’s largest departments. The former manager also said Campbell had not backed the department, a concern highlighted by former city councilor Keith Young.

Equity was also supposed to apply Asheville’s nondiscrimination order which went into effect on July 1 and includes gender identity protections. Campbell said the city’s legal department will now be the lead agency.

Contacted on July 19 by the Citizen Times, Mayor Esther Manheimer called White’s new job a “well-deserved promotion” which was a loss for Asheville but a “wonderful gain” for Carrboro.

“We wish him and his family all the best in their new role. The hiring of a Director of Equity and Inclusion is well advanced and I hope this position will be filled soon, ”said Manheimer.

Deputy Mayor Sheneika Smith, who campaigned in 2017 against the displacement of African-American residents from downtown and other parts of the city, said White’s outing did not concern her when it came to city ​​government operations.

“But I’m interested in better understanding the black work exodus from the region in general,” Smith said.

White’s departure follows the announced retirement of 14-year parks and recreation director Roderick Simmons, the first black person to lead the $ 13 million department with 118 employees.

Joel Burgess has lived at WNC for over 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. He has written award-winning stories on topics ranging from gerrymandering to police use of force. Help us support this type of journalism by subscribing to the Citizen Times.


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