Diversity Debate Overshadows Search For County Manager

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by Kirk Hawkins

CHARLOTTE, NC--"I want everyone who is qualified to apply as our next County Manager,"
said Mecklenburg county Commissioner Kim Ratliff. She says she's heard from a lot of constituents who are upset she said the next County Manager should be a "non-white male" in a meeting last Friday. So on Tuesday, she clarified what that meant, "I just wanted the next person to kinda represent what Mecklenburg County looks like and it doesn't look like one specific race or specific gender,  it's very diverse," said Ratliff.

Supreme Court decisions this week about Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act, continuing coverage of the George Zimmerman Second Degree Murder Trial, and Paula Deen's loss of multiple endorsement deals in the wake of revelations that she used racial slurs in the past, are all reasons race is increasingly a source of sensitivity.

Now, the diversity debate is taking center stage in the search for Mecklenburg's next County Manager to replace Harry Jones who was fired last month "Was the clarification made at the time of the statement? A lot of times we do say things and we come back and we say I meant this or I meant something else," said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake who is hoping commissioner Ratliff's comments won't prompt a lawsuit. Leake will supervise recruiting. "My contention is the job is open to anyone who meets the qualification.  And those qualifications are to serve this community," said Leake.

It could be October before a new County Manager is hired. Commissioners voted last week to pay a local firm $52,000 to help with recruiting efforts.

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