Job Instability: A Timeline of Leadership in Charlotte

THE CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG SCHOOL BOARD called a swift meeting on December 7 to announce the hiring of Clayton Wilcox as the next superintendent of the 18th-largest school district in the country. Unlike in previous superintendent searches, the board didn’t bring a group of finalists forward before making the hire, meaning the public had never met Wilcox before the announcement. The nature of the hiring was just the latest irregularity in the recent story of leadership in Charlotte. Here’s a look at the shuffle in top positions in the past few years:

Charlotte City Managers

2007-2013: Curt Walton
His six-year term—which included efforts toward workplace protections for LGBT citizens—marks the end of more than 30 years of service with the city. 

January 2013-April 2013: Julie Burch (interim)
In the final year of a 26-year career with the city, she holds the top job until Walton’s replacement is hired.

April 2013-July 2016: Ron Carlee
The 11th city manager lands here from Arlington, Virginia, where he oversaw the response to the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Carlee is a strong face in many controversies, including a state attempt to take control of the airport and the arrest of Mayor Cannon.

July 2016-December 2016: Ron Kimble (interim)
The longtime city employee holds the office while the city searches for Carlee’s replacement. He retires as soon as it finds one, and goes to work on his foundation, which fights domestic violence in the name of his daughter, Jamie.

December 2016-President: Marcus Jones
Coming from Norfolk, Virginia, Jones interviews for the job on the Wednesday of the Keith Scott protests. Then, his first day is December 1, one day after another round of protests following the district attorney’s decision not to press charges against the officer who killed Scott. 

Charlotte Mayors

The future governor serves seven terms, the most of any Charlotte mayor in history, championing growth and the opening of the Lynx Blue Line.

The West Charlotte High and Davidson College graduate oversees the city during the Democratic National Convention before being named United States Secretary of Transportation.

The City Council member serves the remainder of Foxx’s term.

The longtime City Council member resigns after being arrested on corruption charges. He serves half of a 44-month federal prison sentence before his release in September 2016. 

The man with the great ’stache is appointed mayor after the Cannon debacle, stepping down from his post in the state Senate to take the job.

December 2015-Present: Jennifer Roberts
The former diplomat oversees the passing of a nondiscrimination ordinance two months into her term. A month later, the sate legislature passes the notorious HB2, which costs the city millions. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendents

July 2006-June 2011: Peter Gorman
His controversial pay-for-performance proposal alienates teachers, and a plan to save money by closing schools in poor, minority neighborhoods fuels distrust in CMS. He leaves for an executive role in News Corporation’s education division.

June 2011-July 2012: Hugh Hattabaugh (interim)
He oversees the system while the school board searches for Gorman’s replacement.

July 2012-November 2014: Heath Morrison
He moves here from Nevada with sky-high expectations and stories of an unending work ethic, but resigns amid a district-led investigation that he created a culture of fear.

November 2014-July 2017: Ann Clark
A former national principal of the year and veteran employee of CMS, Clark assumes the dream job that had long eluded her. Despite her efforts to navigate a controversial reassignment plan, the board decides not to renew her contract beyond this year. 

July 2017: Clayton Wilcox
The school board hires him in from a small school district in the mountains of western Maryland. He previously served as superintendent of a much larger school district in Pinellas County, Florida—a job he left with three years remaining on his contract for a private-sector gig with Scholastic, Inc.

Mecklenburg County Managers

October 2000-May 2013: Harry Jones
A 13-year tenure caps a 38-year career in public service. The board of commissioners abruptly fires him—and even denies him the chance to speak at the meeting. In retirement, Jones beats pancreatic cancer and writes a book, How Cancer Cured My Soul. 

May 2013-December 2013: Bobbie Shields (interim)
He steps in during budget season and manages the county—with a knotty group of commissioners—until it finds Jones’ replacement. 

December 2013-Present: Dena Diorio
The first female county manager, she lands the job she once told Jones she desired. Diorio first joined the city staff in 2007 in a finance role, and 10 years later, she is the longest-tenured leader in a top governmental role in the city or county.

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