The city of Asheville has tapped Debra Campbell to be its next city manager. Campbell has been an assistant city manager in Charlotte since 2014. Prior to that she served as Charlotte's planning director from 2004 to 2014. Asheville city council unanimously approved her appointment at a special meeting Wednesday. Campbell will start her job in Asheville December 3rd. She's the first African-American to hold the post of Asheville city manager.
“I am truly blessed, honored and excited to have been selected amongst an extremely qualified pool of applicants to be the next City Manager of Asheville,” Campbell said in a statement. “I have visited this city on numerous occasions and marveled not only at its natural beauty but also at the spirit of community activism that is exhibited uniquely by people in Asheville."
“As your next City Manager, I promise to work tirelessly and collaboratively with elected officials, staff and every sector of this community to build on the positive momentum underway in this great city, and to address issues related to public safety and trust, social and economic disparity, and environmental stewardship,” Campbell added.
The city had planned on holding meet and greets with five finalists for the city manager position. But those plans were scrapped Monday when an announcement was made that a finalist had been chosen. In a press release the city said one candidate was ‘so well aligned with the input received from the community' that officials went ahead and made an offer to that person. Campbell was also known to have been a finalist for the city manager job for Greenville, South Carolina.
Campbell replaces Gary Jackson, who was relieved of his duties by city council in March of this year. Jackson had held the position of city manager for 13 years and had planned on retiring at the end of 2018. But his ouster came in the aftermath of the release of police body camera footage showing a then Asheville police officer choking and beating an unarmed black pedestrian in August of 2017. That footage did not become public until six months after the incident occurred when it was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times which then published it. All members of Asheville city council said they were unaware of the beating until the video was published, and several changes to internal reporting procedures within city government were made in the aftermath of the video becoming public. The officer in the beating case, Chris Hickman, faces three criminal charges including one felony count.