Durham leaders introduce new city manager

June 3, 2008 2:28:00 PM PDT
The search for Durham city manager took a little longer than expect, but city leaders say it was worth the wait.

Durham announced Tom Bonfield as it's next city manager Tuesday afternoon.

As he was announced, Bonfield said he wasn't sure Durham was the place for him until a visit with elected leaders over the Memorial Day holiday.

"I got to see firsthand their passion and their vision and their dreams for this community that got me excited, and that's what turned the tide for me and I said, 'Yes, this is what I want to be a part of, this is a place I would love the opportunity to try to make a difference in,'" Bonfield said.

He comes to city hall from Pensacola, Florida where he's been city manager since 1998.

Officials there speak very highly of him and say he guided the city through hurricane damage and tough economic times.

Durham city leaders say he had all the qualities they were looking for.

"We were looking for someone who had a record of proven, demonstrated integrity, a person that was a great city manager and had great city manager experience and stability," Mayor Bill Bell said.

Three other finalists were introduced to Durham resident at a community forum more than one month ago, but the council couldn't decide on which person to choose.

Some community activists would have preferred that the public get to meet Bonfield before his hiring.

"He missed an opportunity to understand the real flavor of Durham, you know we have real passionate people here," Rev. Melvin Whitley said.

Bonfield will get to know that passion soon enough and says he makes certain commitments to Durham's residents.

"We will serve this community with honesty and integrity," Bonfield said. "Secondly, we will treat every citizen in Durham with dignity and respect."

He was unanimously approved by the council. Bonfield signed a 5-year contract and he will earn $178,000 a year. He is set to start by September 1.


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