Council picks Paris as interim manager as Treme marks last meeting
By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Calling him a “rising star,” City Council on Tuesday unanimously appointed Doug Paris interim city manager.
Paris, 27, has been City Manager David Treme’s protege since 2007.
Now, Paris will step into his mentor’s shoes for a few months while officials search for Treme’s replacement. Treme will retire Aug. 1 after more than 25 years as city manager.
Paris is “a rising star in the public administration arena,” Councilman William “Pete” Kennedy said.
Paris, who’s served for nine months as assistant city manager, oversees legislative affairs for Salisbury. It’s an increasingly critical area, as legislation aimed at annexation, broadband and other topics directly effects the city.
He recently crafted the city’s crucial exemption from a new state law limiting government’s ability to launch and operate broadband systems like Fibrant, Salisbury’s Internet, phone and cable TV public utility.
After lengthy negotiations, state legislators agreed to carve out five cities with broadband networks up and running. Salisbury’s exemption was viewed by many as the most favorable.
Started as assistant
Paris joined the city of Salisbury as assistant to the city manager, eventually earning $50,000 in that position. He was promoted to assistant city manager in September 2010 and earned $73,062, the minimum salary available to the grade.
As interim city manager, Paris will make an annual salary of $85,000, plus a monthly $2,500 bonus for each month he serves in the position.
After the meeting, Paris said he’s considering applying for the city manager position and threw his hat in the ring for the interim post because it was a good opportunity.
“It’s my career. It’s what I went to school for, and it’s my passion,” he said. “My plan is to be a city manger in Salisbury or some other city in the future.”
Salisbury has been a great place to develop and grow professionally, he said.
“I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to serve as interim city manager during this period of transition,” he told Council during the meeting.
City staff will continue to focus “100 percent on achieving the outcomes and goals and vision Council has for our community,” he said.
Paris beat two other candidates from the city’s management team for the job. All three were well-qualified, council members said.
Treme’s last meeting
Tuesday marked Treme’s final City Council meeting. He received a key to the city, a lengthy resolution thanking him for his selfless dedication to Salisbury and a standing ovation.
Council lauded his accomplishments, including the revitalization of downtown, establishment of the greenway, a new police headquarters and fire department, Salisbury Community Park, relocating City Hall, expanding the water-sewer system and more.
• Councilman Brian Miller Using the premise of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Miller said Salisbury would be a far different place today if it wasn’t for Treme. Council included a long list of goals and accomplishments during Treme’s tenure.
“David, you are the architect of all that,” Miller said.
In his 18 months on City Council, Miller said he’s come to know what he used to appreciate from a distance. He praised Salisbury’s professional staff and said the city is highly respected throughout the state thanks to excellent management.
• Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell Treme recruited talented managers and staff, “but you’re the one who kept everything running smoothly,” Blackwell said.
She noted the personal sacrifices Treme has made in his quarter-century at the helm, ready to serve even in the middle of the night.
“You’ve been praised and vilified, but you kept your faith and continued to serve loyally,” she said.
• Councilman Paul Woodson Treme is a sincere, great leader, Woodson said, and he’s learned a lot from him.
Noting that Treme took little time off during his career, Woodson encouraged him to consider teaching city management or politics.
“I’ve always been amazed at your sense of timing,” Woodson said.
• Councilman William “Pete” Kennedy When Kennedy was elected 18 years ago, Town Mall stood abandoned on East Innes Street.
“Many people drove by Salisbury and laughed at the mall with no tenants,” he said.
Thanks to Treme’s leadership, the area is now full of restaurants and shops, Kennedy said. A vacant bakery in the midst of downtown now buzzes with activity from law offices and other businesses, he said.
“You’re going to be missed,” he said.
• City Clerk Myra Heard Treme has made a big difference in her life and the lives of her family members, Heard said.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see first hand how much Mr. Treme truly loves and cares about other people,” she said. “He is an encourager and a supporter. He sees the very best in people.”
• Mayor Susan Kluttz She praised Treme for his “constant dedication” to Salisbury and his servant leadership.
“No one has given more to this city than you,” Kluttz said.
Treme’s wife Karen, daughter Julianne VanGraafeiland and son-in-law Pete VanGraafeiland attended the meeting, and Treme thanked Karen especially for her patience and support throughout his career.
Salisbury has the best employees anywhere, he said.
“I knew I was called to be a city manager at a young age,” he said.
Council will award Treme a bonus of about $35,000 upon his retirement.
Council will pay Richmond, Va.-based Springstead and Associates $15,700 to recruit and screen candidates during a nationwide search for the next city manager. Human Resources Director Zack Kyle will assist throughout the hiring process.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.
Doug Paris is an honors graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and has a bachelor of arts degree in political science and a masters degree in public administration from Chapel Hill’s School of Government.
He is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s LEAD (Leading, Educating, And Developing) Management Program offered through the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
A Salisbury native, Paris is involved in both the Salisbury Rotary Club and the Rowan County United Way.
His wife Melissa Paris is a physician’s assistant at Salisbury Pediatrics.
Paris enjoys cycling, hiking and outdoor activities.
What: Public retirement reception for David Treme
When: 2-5 p.m. July 28 with remarks at 3 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 217 S. Main St.
Praise for Paris
City Council on Doug Paris, interim city manager
“Not only with City Council goals and objectives but as our liaison to the state legislature, he has gained our trust and confidence and respect.”
“Doug is a man of amazing intelligence, and his work ethic is unquestionable.”
Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell
“You know how to hustle, and you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves. I think you’re going to get the job done for us.”
Councilman Paul Woodson
“Often underestimated but never outworked.”
Councilman Brian Miller
“An innovative thinker.”
Councilman William “Pete” Kennedy