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Search for new planning director on hold

Initial efforts to find a new director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department yielded a number of promising candidates and “efforts to negotiate” an offer, but the search should be

deferred until a new city manager is hired, a top city official said this week.



Assistant City Manager Debra Campbell said in an email Wednesday to Tony Lathrop, chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, that initial efforts yielded a “relatively small” pool of “highly qualified candidates” and considering the expected transition to a new city manager, it would be best to delay and relaunch the director’s search later this year.

After interviewing a half-dozen candidates, the list was narrowed to three, including Interim Planning Director Ed McKinney, Campbell said in an interview Thursday.

McKinney has agreed to stay on in the job, she said.

“Under the circumstances that is a prudent strategy and should yield the best result for Charlotte and the Planning Department,” Lathrop said.

McKinney couldn’t be reached for comment.

City Manager Ron Carlee is leaving his post but is expected to stay through preparations for the new budget year, which begins July 1.

“After extensive outreach and a number of promising candidates and efforts to negotiate offers, we have reached the conclusion that the search for planning director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department needs to be re-launched,” Campbell said in her memo. “The pool of highly qualified candidates is relatively small. Individual circumstances and time affect who may be interested and when. Therefore, we find it necessary to refresh our materials and engage with a new recruiting firm to assist in getting the right person for this critical position.

“However, considering the city manager’s transition, we have also concluded that we will be more effective in the recruitment if candidates know to whom they will be reporting.”

The process will be restarted once the search committee can consult with the new manager, Campbell said.

“We greatly appreciate Ed’s leadership over these months of transition and his continued commitment to go above and beyond,” she said. “Likewise, we are extremely appreciative of the planning staff and their hard work especially through this challenging growth and development cycle.”

McKinney has been interim planning director since September 2014, when former planning director Campbell was named assistant city manager. Campbell has been with the city since 1988.

Her role, Campbell said in the interview, has been to screen and talk to candidates, develop questions and coordinate with other members of the search committee.

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