North Carolina executive tapped to be Fort Worth’s next city manager

05/16/2014 8:22 AM

05/16/2014 8:28 AM

David Cooke, the retired county manager of Wake County, N.C., is the lone finalist to be Fort Worth’s next city manager, Mayor Betsy Price announced Friday.

The city is currently negotiating terms with Cooke, 54, who recently was a finalist to become city manager in Dallas.

“Once that process is complete, final approval will come before council for a vote as soon as possible,” Price said.

A potential vote is included on Tuesday’s council agenda.

“We want to thank all of the candidates for their time and patience. This is a vital decision for our city as we continue to move forward and grow, and this nationwide search produced talented and capable professionals to fill this vital role,” Price continued.

Cooke, who is married with two adult sons, is currently a director for Mulkey Engineers and Consultants, an engineering and consulting firm in Raleigh, the county seat of Wake County.

“I’ve got to learn how Fort Worth does things, why they do it that way, and so part of it is a learning experience,” Cooke said. “But I also know I’m going to be coming right about the time the budget will be finalized and recommended to mayor and council.”

The Fort Worth council met Cooke and another candidate, Penny Postoak Ferguson, 45, behind closed doors for about three hours Thursday. Members deliberated for less than an hour before backing Cooke.

The company that the city hired to conduct the national search, the Whitney Smith Co., a human resources consulting and executive search firm, is conducting the negotiations.

“I am very excited. I can’t wait to get started. Now, I have to work out all those details,” Cooke said.

Cooke served as county manager of Wake County, N.C., from 2000 to 2013 and as deputy county manager from 1996 to 2000.

He also worked for the city of Charlotte, N.C., from 1985-96 in several positions, including budget analyst and manager of internal operations. He received his bachelor of arts and master’s in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The council announced three finalists for the position May 5. Roderick L. Bremby, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services and a cabinet secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment from 2003 to 2011, notified the city Tuesday that he was withdrawing from consideration.

The search began after City Manager Tom Higgins, who has been with the city for nearly 30 years, announced his retirement in October. Higgins, who makes $233,400 a year, agreed to stay on until a successor is chosen.

The council tossed out all four of its original finalists in February and started over, readvertising for the job and bringing in new candidates.

Wake County has a population of 952,143, compared with Fort Worth’s 777,992 residents. Cooke retired from Wake County in November because he was eligible to retire in the North Carolina retirement system.

This report includes information from Star-Telegram archives.

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