Hendersonville City Manager “Bo” Ferguson takes Durham deputy city manager job

William Bowman “Bo” Ferguson — who has served about five years as Hendersonville’s city manager — has accepted the deputy city manager job for Durham. In an email that he said was “part press release, part personal thank you,” Ferguson praised Hendersonville’s city council and staff, also noting, “We will miss our friends and colleagues, our church, and the schools we send our kids to.”

Ferguson will resign his Hendersonville post at the end of this year. (See below for his full statement.)

Durham officials, meanwhile, released this announcement:

City Manager Tom Bonfield has named William Bowman “Bo” Ferguson as the new deputy city manager.

According to Bonfield, Ferguson is an experienced and credentialed city manager that will bring valuable knowledge and leadership experience to the City of Durham. “Bo’s breadth of experience uniquely made him the best fit for the position. He has an extensive background in organizational leadership, community and City Council relations, staff development, public participation and involvement, intergovernmental relations, fiscally prudent budget development, and management,” Bonfield said. “We look forward to Bo joining the City’s management team and to the expertise he will bring to this organization, and ultimately, to this community.”

Ferguson, who will join the City on January 7, 2013, will lead the Operations team, which is a group of departments tasked with delivering traditional governmental services that most directly impact residents on a day-to-day basis. The following departments are in the Operations team: Durham Emergency Communications Center, City/County Emergency Management, Fire, Fleet Management, General Services, Parks and Recreation, Police, Public Works, Solid Waste Management, and Water Management.

Ferguson comes to the City of Durham with 16 years of experience in local government management, most recently as the city manager of the City of Hendersonville, N.C. Prior to this position, Ferguson was the assistant town manager and finance officer in the Town of Black Mountain, N.C.; assistant to the city manager in the City of Rockville, Md.; and senior management analyst with the City of Greenbelt, Md.

Ferguson holds a master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. as well as a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Urban Studies from Furman University in Greenville, S.C. Ferguson also graduated from the North Carolina Municipal and County Administration Course at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government and the LEAD program, which is the companion to the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia. Ferguson has also completed internships in Charlotte, N.C.; Greenville, S.C., Liberty, Mo., and with the International City/County Management Association.

Ferguson fills the deputy city manager spot left vacant by Theodore Voorhees who was named the city manager of Fayetteville in August 2012.

Ferguson’s statement

Forgive the odd combination, but this is part press release, part personal thank you note.

I am writing to let you know that I will be resigning my post of City Manager at the end of the year to take a new position. For almost 5 years, it has been my pleasure to work for Hendersonville’s citizens, and to enjoy life in the finest city I have ever called home. Our family quickly fell in love with this place and put down roots. We will miss our friends and colleagues, our church, and the schools we send our kids to. This city is a part of us, and we have made many wonderful memories here.

On the occasion of my departure, let me take this opportunity to let you know that Hendersonville has the best City Council I have ever worked with in my 16 year career. They care about the needs of citizens, are responsive to the business community, and treat each other with a dignity that is rare among today’s elected officials. They are professional, unselfish, visionary and focused on the long-term success of our city. They reject petty politics and instead engage in meaningful dialogue, while allowing their staff to carry out our responsibilities with careful oversight but no selfish interference. For those reasons, I am confident they will select a new City Manager who represents those values and continues the excellent progress our city has enjoyed over the years. Hendersonville has an incredibly bright future.

The City also can boast of an exceptionally dedicated, professional and efficient staff. As a City Manager, it is rare to receive more compliments than complaints about your staff, but I can honestly say in my five years that is exactly what I have experienced. Our staff goes the extra mile to serve our citizens, and when problems arise, they look for ways to reach resolutions while still respecting the core responsibilities of government. I have learned much from them in my time here, and their excellence will provide Hendersonville’s next manager a strong foundation to build on.

The Mayor, in consultation with the City Council, is currently exploring options for transitioning to Hendersonville’s next manager. I expect the Council will hire an experienced Interim City Manager to oversee city operations for several months while the search for a permanent replacement moves forwarded. I am confident both the interim and permanent City Managers will be people of exceptional character and qualifications, and will continue Hendersonville’s progress for years to come. This job will be highly sought after by professional managers from across the country – I have no doubt the Council will have excellent options to choose from.

Please know that the only reason for departure is a chance to tackle a “once in a lifetime” career challenge, and that this organization and Council are rock-solid with a very bright future. I’m moving to Durham, where I will become that city’s Deputy City Manager over operations. Durham is the 4th largest city in North Carolina, and I’ll oversee the operations portfolio, which contains roughly two-thirds of the City’s workforce – about 2,200 staff. Managing Hendersonville has been very challenging and extremely rewarding, but this opportunity will obviously bring a very different set of challenges. That chance to push myself and test my abilities ultimately drew me to accept the position. It will be hard work in a complex urban city – I’m excited, but I’m also heartbroken to leave. There is so much that I will miss about living here and serving as Hendersonville’s City Manager.

If you want more information about Durham for a story, you can contact their public information office: Amy Blalock at Amy.Blalock@durhamnc.gov

And finally, on a personal note, I want to thank you for your partnership for the last five years. While I have occasionally taken issue with how you might have covered a certain story (as City Managers are prone to do J), I have, more than anything, been grateful for your faithful coverage of local news. Whether telling “good” stories or “bad”, I truly believe the free press is the fourth pillar of our government, providing critical information to citizens about the actions of their leaders and government staff. You have always given us a chance to tell our story and you have always done your best to get the story right. It would be hard to ask for more than that. I wish you all the best.

My projected last day in the office will be December 28, 2012.


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