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No Decision On City Manager As Council Stays Up Late Discussing Candidates

The Charlotte City Council stalled Wednesday night in the final stage of its search for a new city manager. 

The Council stayed in a closed session until past midnight, deliberating on which of three remaining candidates will take over what’s arguably the city’s most powerful job.

After four hours of debate, the council had no decision to report.

But even before the evening session extended into the night, the search ran into complications when the candidates faced one final test. They were supposed to meet with citizens at a public reception and Q&A. The problem is, other than city staff, less than two dozen people showed up.

“We would liked to have seen more, but you know it’s hard to get people out,” said Councilwoman Beth Pickering. “There may be some interest in giving the community more time to weigh in—maybe over the weekend.”

The decision is between two long-time city of Charlotte officials, Ron Kimble and Ruffin Hall, and one outside candidate, Ron Carlee.

Assistant City Manager Ruffin Hall is the clean-shaven one. He spent a decade heading Charlotte’s budget office—which is where the past two city managers have come from.

The mustachioed Ron Kimble is deputy budget director city manager, and a step higher in the city government than Ruffin Hall. He’s overseen large economic development projects for the city, like the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the stadium deals for the Charlotte Knights and the Carolina Panthers. Kimble applied for the job last time, but lost out to Curt Walton.

Ron Carlee is the bearded outsider. He’s been city county manager before, in Arlington, Virginia just outside Washington, D.C. Carlee left in 2009 to join the International City/Council Management Association, but he wants to return to active management.

“I really missed it,” Carlee says.  “I would go to meetings, and sit with other managers and provide technical assistance, and then just walk away from it, and I’d think ‘Oh no, I want to make that happen.’”

The Council’s schedule calls for picking a candidate and extending a job offer by Tuesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mislabeled Ron Carlee as "former city manager" and Ron Kimble as "deputy budget director." Kimble's position in the government has also been reworded.