Raleigh chooses Ruffin Hall as its new city manager

ccampbell@newsobserver.comOctober 4, 2013 

Ruffin Hall

— The Raleigh City Council introduced Ruffin Hall as the new city manager Friday morning.

Hall is an assistant city manager in Charlotte, where he also served as the city’s budget director for a decade. The Raleigh council chose Hall from 80 applicants and four finalists who sought the position.

Council members announced the new manager in the lobby of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Hall was also in the running for Charlotte’s city manager job earlier this year, when he was one of three finalists. Since becoming an assistant city manager last year, he has overseen economic development, planning and transit for Charlotte, including the city’s light-rail system.

Hall is new to Raleigh but no stranger to the Triangle. He completed a bachelor’s in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1992 and later a master’s degree in public administration. He served as assistant to the Chapel Hill town manager in 1998 and 1999, and then spent two years in Durham as a senior budget analyst before moving to Charlotte in 2001.

Cal Horton, the now-retired Chapel Hill town manager who hired Hall out of graduate school, said his former assistant recently mentioned that he was interested in the Raleigh job.

Hall showed a knack for city management early on, Horton said.

“It was very clear that he had a long-term interest in the profession,” he said. “He put in a lot of hours and took on a lot of different kinds of assignments.”

Horton said Hall is skilled at keeping lines of communication open with council members, city staffers and the public – a key role for a city administrator who must balance diverse interests.

“If I were to summarize his greatest talents, it would be the ability to think, write and speak with great precision,” Horton said.

Communication was a concern that Raleigh’s council voiced about former City Manager Russell Allen, who was fired in April.

“I think everybody knows we’ve had some issues on communication within the city staff and with the council,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said at the time.

The announcement comes after a three-month search for Allen’s replacement. Despite outcry from two council members who favored an open process, the council majority declined to release the names of the four finalists.

Recent searches for Wake schools superintendent and Raleigh police chief included public forums with the top candidates; so did Charlotte’s recent manager search in which Hall was a finalist. Raleigh leaders said they were concerned that publicity might scare away top applicants.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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