MORRISVILLE — For the first time, a woman will take the reins of Morrisville’s day-to-day operations.
The Morrisville Town Council voted unanimously to hire Martha Wheelock, 52, assistant city manager for Winston-Salem.
“I’m absolutely thrilled (with) the resume that she’s provided, and her work ethic and her accomplishments,” said Councilwoman Margaret Broadwell, who once served as the town’s first female mayor. “And while it may be different, I think it’s a step forward in Morrisville’s history.”
Wheelock’s experience with organizing special events and overseeing development projects, along with her a personality, make her a good fit for the town, Broadwell said.
Wheelock was selected out of a pool of 80 applicants. She is set to start Sept. 23, pending successful completion of the pre-employment process and approval of an employment contract by the Town Council.
The town manager salary range is between $120,000 and $140,000.
Wheelock said she is excited to be the town’s first female town manager.
“I will live to earn the proud mantle of being the first woman for Morrisville,” she said. “I can be ... tough, but I have my little soft side too. I think it can be a good combination.”
Wheelock said the decision to leave Winston-Salem after 14 years was difficult but that she was ready for new challenges. She started there in 1999 as the coliseum/convention center’s finance director. She became the city’s assistant manager in 2006 and was in charge of overseeing the coliseum complex and public assembly facilities, marketing and communications, the city’s customer service information center and more.
Before she began work for Winston-Salem, Wheelock worked as business manager for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Christopher Newport University in Virginia and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“I am looking forward to embracing the new challenges not only for me as I learn and grow with Morrisville, but the opportunity to continue the traditions of the Town Center concept and work on the transportation challenges and look at economic opportunities,” Wheelock said. “Those are all very exciting ways to continue to make Morrisville an important community within the Wake County area.”
Morrisville’s search for a new town manager began eight months ago, when John Whitson left the post for a job in Texas to be closer to his family.
In May, the council announced that it had re-started its search because council members couldn’t agree on a candidate.
The town did not release the names of the finalists during both rounds of the application process.
Raleigh leaders took the same approach in their city-manager search. Mayor Nancy McFarlane said secrecy was needed to attract the best candidates.
In Morrisville, Tony Chiotakis, director of community services, has been serving as interim town manager. The council voted unanimously Tuesday to give Chiotakis a $5,000 one-time bonus for “his extraordinary service.”
In the past eight months, Chiotakis helped put together a $26.5 million budget that includes a 2.35 cent property-tax increase. He also oversaw the start of the $14.3 million N.C. 54 bypass project.
Staff writer Colin Campbell contributed to this report.