Gov. Bev Perdue has tapped Dempsey Benton, a former Raleigh city manager, to run the Employment Security Division of the Commerce Department.
Benton has become something of a "Mr. Fix It" in state government. Gov. Mike Easley appointed Benton to run the Department of Health and Human Services in 2007 when that agency was having trouble. In 2009, Perdue put him in charge of the office overseeing federal stimulus spending in North Carolina.
From the governor's office:
In 2009, Benton was appointed by Gov. Perdue to lead the Office of Economic Recovery & Investment. The office coordinated and tracked North Carolina’s handling of federal stimulus funds as well as state-level economic recovery initiatives. Prior to that, Benton served as the Secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services from August 2007 to January 2009 and as Chief Deputy Secretary of the state Environment and Natural Resources Department from 2001 until January 2007. Prior to joining state government, Benton served as Raleigh city manager from 1983 to 2000 and as the city’s assistant manager from 1974 to 1983. Before moving to Raleigh, he served as city manager of Elizabeth City and finance director in Rocky Mount.
Benton's top priority will be finding ways to restore the solvency of the Unemployment Trust Fund, Crisco said.
"Dempsey is a person with great experience, someone who has worked at many levels of government. He's a steady hand. He's handled federal programs in the past," he said.
Studies are already underway, and Crisco said he hopes to have recommended changes ready for lawmakers by the short session starting in May.