DURHAM -- Mayor Bill Bell and city council members announced Tuesday the selection of Thomas Bonfield to replace Patrick Baker as city manager.
“An opportunity to manage a city in the North Carolina Research Triangle has always been, as long as I can remember, a coveted career move,” said Bonfield.
Bonfield comes to Durham from Pensacola, Fla., where he served as city manager for 10 years. His colleagues there say he helped revitalize downtown and helped the city rebuild after hurricanes and economic downturns. In all, he brings 30 years of government experience.
"Tom Bonfield is a highly-qualified, highly-intelligent, hard-working gentleman that's very devoted to his profession. It will be Pensacola's loss and Durham's gain,” said Sam Hall, a Pensacola City Council member.
He highlighted several things he's anxious to improve in the Bull City, including managing city projects and the budget. Bonfield admitted he wasn't sure Durham was the right place for him until he visited Memorial Day weekend and met with city leaders.
"I got to see firsthand their passion, their vision and their dreams for this community,” he said. “That got me excited and that's what turned the tide for me and I said, 'Yes, this is a place I want to be a part of."
Three other candidates for the job came to meet Durham residents at a community forum last month. Bonfield wasn't an original finalist for the job but Bell says the council's decision to hire him was unanimous.
“We were looking for someone who had a record of proven demonstrated integrity, a person that was a great city manager and had great city manager experience and stability,” said Bell.
Bonfield signed a five-year contract and will earn $178,000 a year. His first day on the job is Sept. 1. Baker steps down this month to become the new city attorney.