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Conner Severance Package Approved; Durham Starts Hunt For New City Manager

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham City Manager Marcia Conner will get to walk away from her job with almost $165,000.

Conner resigned late last month after three years of scrutiny. The City Council approved Conner's severance package Thursday.

"Together, with Council and city employees, we've accomplished a lot in Durham in the past three years," said Conner, whose last day is Aug. 20. "I feel the groundwork has been laid for some important projects that will take Durham into the future.

"Needless to say, there is a lot of work left to do."

With the severance package behind them, city leaders must find Conner's replacement. The City Council will continue to discuss a search for Conner's replacement next week.

As of Thursday, apparently no one had asked Durham business leaders about qualities they would like to see in the next city manager. WRAL did, and the people asked had a lot to say.

You don't have to look far to see the landscape is changing in the city of Durham. There's new construction all around downtown and away from town.

Business leaders said they want the next city leader to believe it when they brag that Durham is a quality product for quality people, and they want to have a say.

"The business community could add a lot," small business owner Matt Yarbrough said. "They could bring a lot to the table. We are all in the business of hiring people daily and know what to look for."

Architect Phil Freelon said Durham is at a crossroads but moving forward. He said the next city manager must keep that going.

"Because the city manager position is so high-profile, that person will play a key role in being an advocate for Durham and making sure the positive spin is put on what we're doing," Freelon said.

But no city official apparently has asked for the opinions of Freelon or Yarbrough, who do not expect the city to ask for help.

"Since when has City Council ever turned to the business leaders to do anything other than to bail them out of trouble?" Freelon said.

But, if called on, Yarbrough said he would tell the City Council to pick a manager with impeccable credentials.

"They have to have great honor, great integrity," Yarbrough said. "They have to have a track record, and they have to have recommendations."

The search for the new city manager is not expected to be a quick one. Mayor Bill Bell said it could take as long as six months.


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