Oxford city manager search is over; Salisbury's Hemann picked

Apr. 03, 2013 @ 05:31 PM

After a nine-month search, Oxford has a new city manager.

And he’s excited about the opportunity.

Randy Hemann, executive director of Downtown Salisbury for the past 15 years, was named Wednesday in a statement released by the city’s mayor and commissioners.

“My family had the opportunity to spend some time there and everyone we met made us feel welcome,” Hemann said. “We look forward to being a part of the community.”

Hemann begins May 6 at an annual salary of $97,500.

The city manager position became vacant June 22, 2012, when Mark Donham turned in his resignation. It came one week after commissioners placed him on leave.

Leonard Barefoot was named interim city manager five days later and will continue to serve until Hemann takes his position next month.

“We think Randy has a lot of gifts that Oxford will benefit from,” said Jackie Sergent, the mayor of Oxford. “He has a wonderful personality. I think he’ll be a good fit for the staff as well as the community.”

Prior to his post in Salisbury, the Rowan County seat of approximately 33,000 residents, Hemann worked in Kinston for 10 years and Benson one year. He is a past president of the N.C. Downtown Development Association.

A native of West Virginia, Hemann holds a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University and a master’s in public administration from East Carolina University.

Hartwell Wright of the N.C. League of Municipalities assisted the search for a new city manager. Meeting with the commissioners in August, he said they should establish clear qualifications for the job and make a systematic search.

The city received more than 100 applications for the position. The list was trimmed to eight after an evaluation of the candidates’ qualifications, follow-up telephone calls to some applicants and the withdrawal of one applicant.

The board held closed meetings in December to conduct interviews via Skype with each of the eight remaining candidates. Each Skype interview allowed two-way voice communication between the members of the board and the candidate and one-way visual communication. The board saw the candidate; no candidate saw the board.

After the Skype interviews, the board trimmed the list to five candidates for in-person interviews.

“I was exceedingly happy with the process,” Sergent said. “I‘m proud of the way the board stayed together on this and worked so well. We started out with very diverse opinions and ended up quite unified.”

Hemann’s selection was based on a consensus of the board, she said.

“I’m excited about coming to Oxford,” Hemann said. “They have a great team.”

Coming to North Carolina from West Virginia was a considered decision for Hemann and his family.

“We decided to relocate to central North Carolina and we’ve been here for 27 years,” Hemann said. “We have a lot of friends here.”

Hemann and his wife, Paula, have a 12-year-old son, Preston, and are members of Faith Baptist Church in Salisbury.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.