Email exchange between county leaders shows tension over manager search

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

For a third day, a select group of Mecklenburg County commissioners interviewed applicants for the county manager's job.

The commissioners on the search committee say it's going well, but emails Channel 9 obtained tell a different story.

The emails are full of accusations from other board members who've been kept out of the interviews claiming the process is shrouded in secrecy.

Just before four county commissioners went into closed session to interview candidates for county manager, Chair Pat Cotham said the search for a new county manager is on track.

"I can just tell you that the interviews are going very well," she said.

Last Friday, Commissioner Trevor Fuller wrote he was "disappointed in the surreptitious nature of this search, and the lack of transparency in the process."

Fuller and Commissioner George Dunlap have been complaining for weeks that while the four-member search committee is interviewing county manager applicants.

The rest of the board is being kept out of the room and doesn't even know who the candidates are.

The emails between Fuller and Dunlap and search committee members Bill James and Karen Bentley show animosity increasing.

Bentley wrote to Fuller, "It is clear you do not trust the search committee. I do not need your lawyerly, condescending lecture about how the process should be."

Bentley said Wednesday morning she's worried about how the board's bickering will be seen by applicants for the county manager's job.

"They're interviewing us as much as we're interviewing them and we need to be very mindful of that," Bentley said.

Channel 9 spoke with Fuller late Wednesday and he called the email exchange among commissioners "spirited."

He said he still thinks the process for interviewing the first round of manager candidates is flawed.

The search committee meets again Thursday.

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