The Town of Carrboro recently announced that Town Manager Richard White III would be stepping down to take a new position in the City of Salisbury.

This really bums us out.

Since arriving in Carrboro in August 2021, White has done a tremendous job in his role of Town Manager. During his tenure, he helped complete and begin implementing the Carrboro Connects comprehensive plan, which received the Marvin Collins Award for Comprehensive Plan by the American Planning Association-North Carolina Chapter (APA-NC).

That was a huge undertaking, and involved wrangling a lot of stakeholders.

In a press release, Mayor Damon Seils touted White’s many accomplishments.

“Richard has accomplished a great deal during his time in Carrboro,” Mayor Damon Seils said. “His work with the Town Council to develop strategic priorities, as well as his initiation of strategic planning processes with the Town’s staff, set the stage for achieving the vision of the Carrboro Connects comprehensive plan.”

White also oversaw the distribution and use of ARPA funding, and helped complete the financing for Carrboro’s new library, which will also house town and county offices. (The project has been some 39 years (!!) in the making.)

White also identified the need for an assistant town manager who could help the town address key challenges. In June, Marie Parker, who previously directed a transit agency in Wilmington, started her position.

We appreciated how White created momentum in Carrboro to get stuff done and to move projects along. Carrboro is a town that has traditionally not moved very quickly (See, for example, the length of the town’s library project.)

White was getting stuff done

In Carrboro and Chapel Hill, our elected officials are part-time employees. This means that town managers are the ones who are responsible for running a successful and productive organization. When storms take down power lines, or floodwaters make streets impassible, it’s the town manager—not the mayor—who makes sure we’re safe. Town managers are also charged with carrying out the policies set by our mayor and town council, giving them the information they need to make good decisions.

Great town managers, like White, can be the difference between a government that works and one that doesn’t.

We hope that the Carrboro Town Council sees how important it is to have a world-class, accredited town manager with experience in that role.

We hope they initiate a national search for White’s replacement. Bringing in an outsider may require more initial onboarding – but a fresh set of eyes and vision will help ensure that Carrboro can continue to build on White’s momentum and get stuff done.

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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....